Summer Graduate Writing Bootcamp: What, How, and Why

For graduate students, summers are a time to get stuff done. Summer is a time to read, think, research, and write; to begin new projects and work on/complete existing projects. Over the years, I’ve participated in many writing groups. I’ve done Wendy Belcher‘s Journal Article in 12 Weeks. I’ve tried other methods of writing productivity with varying success/failure. Two things stand out: writing every day is an extremely useful practice and writing does not have to be a solitary pursuit. This post details how to create a graduate writing bootcamp and why it’s worth your time.

In fact, writing in a group environment is when I’ve been most productive. Several conversations with Lisa Munro inspired me to brainstorm how to create a useful summer writing group. As a result, I developed the “Graduate Writing Bootcamp,” but the name is a misnomer–anyone can use this system. We are now on week 2 of writing bootcamp and are up to 4-5 members each day with an attendance high of 7.

Since starting the group, I have been able to research, finalize my syllabus and assignments for a summer session online course, create and schedule blog drafts, revise my prospectus for submission, and begin writing for a chapter in an edited volume. Other members of the group comment daily on how productive they’ve been and how useful they find the bootcamp. Our growing numbers also attest to our success. At this time, we have plans to continue meeting for the duration of the summer.

The details:

  • Daily agenda: meet 9:30-ish until 4-ish at a location that can house your group
    • We meet at our university’s main library in the graduate/faculty group space
    • You should set a time span that works for your group
  • Pomodoro technique (write/work for 25 minutes, take a 5 min break, continue for 4 times then take a 15-30 minute break)
  • 1 hour for lunch
  • All you need to bring is yourself, a project, and something to write with/on – you can be at any stage including comps prep (just read and take notes instead of writing or researching)
  • If someone isn’t in town, but wants to be involved, tell them to Skype or Google Hangout to follow along  
  • At the end of the week, your members can share progress with the group (possible peer review, etc).
  • You can easily implement Wendy Belcher’s 12-week article technique with the pomodoro method if you’re starting a research project from scratch

 

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