Aims of Writers Groups (In brief) Through mutual support in a community of writers: –Make the process of research writing more enjoyable (less painful) for the writer –Make the product of research writing more enjoyable (less painful) for the reader
So… What makes a writers group work? Convenience of time, place, duration, frequency of meetings Negotiation and explicit statement of purpose and procedures Commitment
What Do You Pick to Mix? FreeWriting: What I want in a Writers Group Be explicit about what youd like to do (and what you dont want to do) in the writers group meetings Writing together Learning feedback techniques/giving feedback Discussing writing processes Discussing feedback processes Talking about problems, triumphs, strategies… Goal-setting Other ideas?
Pick-n-Mix A Typology of Writers Groups Sarah Haas Leuven, Belgium firstname.lastname@example.org Assumption Abbey Writer Development Course July 9~13 2012
Membership… Who? –Discipline-specific –Inter-disciplinary –At similar or varying stages in project/career –Working on a joint project How many? –2 – 12 –Floating membership
Leadership Who and how much? –No leader Teacherless writing class (Elbow) –Peer leader (fixed or rotating leader) –Near-peer leader (Murphy/Lee and Boud) –Start-up leader –Specialist leader (Aitchison) Subject specialist Writing specialist Language specialist
In-Meeting Activities Writing activities –Freewriting –Writing to Prompts –Generative Writing –Self-Directed Writing Feedback activities –Learn and practice different feedback techniques –Give feedback on each others writing Goal setting Discussions on writing and feedback processes Discussions on/evaluations of the meetings themselves Social element
Audience with authority, (teachers, editors, supervisors, employers) Audience of peers Audience of allies (readers who particularly care for the writer) Audience of self ( private writing) Sharing no response Response no criticism or evaluation Criticism or evaluation *(confirmatory or corrective) Adapted from Map of Writing in Terms of Audience and Response (Elbow, 2000: 29) *(Kurtoglu-Hooton, 2004)
Trouble-shooting Some Problems You Might Encounter… Timing Commitment Interaction –Holding the floor - Whining –Going off-task- Sponging Reinforcing each others bad habits Personality conflicts
Place, Time, Frequency, Duration Morning meetings Evening meetings Midday meetings Two-hour meetings Three-hour meetings All-day meetings Weekly Meetings Fortnightly meetings Bi-weekly meetings Monthly meetings Public place Private place Work place Virtual space Continuous Groups Temporary Groups
Benefits of Writers Groups Increased output (Lee and Boud) Increased motivation (Murray) Less feeling of isolation (Aitchison) Increased confidence (Badley) Better written product (Elbow)
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