Shut Up and Write!

This is not a command from a particularly cranky and irritated supervisor, but an increasingly popular strategy used to facilitate short bursts of productive writing in a fun and social setting. ‘Fun’ and ‘social’ are not words students or academics generally use to describe the hard slog of the usually solitary pursuit of academic writing, but ‘Shut up and Write!’ sessions are different. Along with these incentives for attending, peer pressure helps stop the inevitable excuse of ‘I’m too busy this week…’, or loss of focus during the session. The basic idea is simple, and can be adapted to the preferences of a particular group. A short (just an hour or so is enough), regular time period (perhaps first thing in the morning of a particular day each week) is set aside to write together away from your usual location, preferably somewhere pleasant and sociable like a café. There will first be an opportunity for socialising, drinking and eating (for maybe 15 or 20 minutes) then everyone writes, and just writes, for say 25-30 minutes. No email, no phone calls, no texts, no other interruptions. After this, there is usually another short socialising opportunity that either concludes the session or is the prelude to another writing ‘sprint’. If nothing else, this achieves up to one hour of writing in a given week and, importantly, often increases motivation and inspiration and builds support networks. Some groups have an open invitation and postgrad students, honours students and academics might all come together in a relatively large group, others prefer to keep it small. Feedback is always overwhelmingly positive. Like the sound of it? Maybe your University already has a Shut up and Write! Group you can join, if not – why not start one?

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