by Jesse Kavadlo
Talk about Write Club
As professors, we need to write all the time. And while the books, articles, presentations, and grant applications within our fields seem to get most of the attention, we also write for our students
and classes: syllabuses, modules, assignments, classroom materials, responses to students, and more. We write as part of university service—memos, agendas, reports—and self-evaluation: teaching philosophies, promotion portfolios, annual faculty activities reports. Mainly, we write alone, accountable only to ourselves and our deadlines, with the first person reading the work also the intended audience and, sometimes unfortunately, its assessor.
What if there were another way?
That’s what the Finch Center for Teaching and Learning has in mind with Write Club: peer groups where members hold each other accountable for deadlines and provide workshop-style responses
for any writing project no matter how big or small.
The first rule of Write Club is: You do talk about Write Club.
Talk. Share. Read. Evaluate. Having an audience of peers provides writers with incentives to be productive and fosters effective writing habits. Receiving reactions and support can be beneficial, but the act of reading and responding to peers also promotes better writing as well.
The second rule of Write Club is: You do not talk about Write Club.
Not, at least, outside of meetings. What people work on remains confidential.
The third rule of Write Club: Someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the write is over.
Actually… it will never get to that point. We will maintain conventions of civility. The goal is to evaluate the writing, not the writer, and make sure that comments are objective and constructive.
And the fourth and final rule: If you’re at Write Club, you have to write.
Participants evaluate, but will also have their work evaluated in turn. There are no tourists at Write Club.
So, whatever you’re working on, from an academic paper to a PowerPoint for class, Write Club can help you maintain a regular writing schedule and improve your process, connect with colleagues, and practice and improve your writing product before it goes off to its audience.