Effective April 2, 2020, WriteON consists of virtual check-ins via Zoom!

Virtual check-ins begin at 9 a.m. (CT). For more information and to register, visit this month's Doodle below. Virtual check-ins permit students to discuss their writing projects at the macro level and in terms of the upcoming day...and to see other human beings who are also trying to write during COVID.

Thank you for these sessions. I wouldn’t have stayed on course without them!

Lindsay Athamanah  |  PhD in Special Education and now a postdoctoral Hegarty Fellow at Michigan State University
Woman Writing on Laptop

The Graduate College’s “Get Your WriteON!” — or simply “WriteON” — was created in the fall of 2014 and inspired by colleagues at the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy. While the frequency of sessions has increased, the essence remained the same: providing self-motivated graduate students with a dedicated space and time to write. (Grad alumni are also welcome!) The no-frills writing sessions in SSB2790 were long on quietude, coffee, and camaraderie — and short on chit-chat (at least within the work space). Using Doodle as a reservation system, participation was capped at twelve participants per session so that each writer could enjoy a strategically placed table (~48″ long) with access to UIC Wi-Fi and an electrical outlet. Staff and participants provided the coffee, tea, cream, and, their own mug. A small refrigerator was available to store lunches.

March 2021 Registration

Workshops and Workshopping

When staffing permits, workshops are offered. Past workshop topics have included “CVs and Cover Letters,” “How Do I Get Out of Here?” (Dr. Kollenbroich’s practical primer on the thesis/dissertation process), and a discussion of practical and technological best practices and tools.

When graduate student enthusiasm exists, WritersON engage in the workshopping of (article, dissertation chapter) drafts using Box to share the texts and meeting on Zoom to discuss one another’s contributions. Traditionally, with the exception of the coordinator, one offers up one’s own work for critique in order to participate, but participants can make their own rules.

In Praise of Deep Work and Walking

My first recommendation for cultivating your own attention, then, is to carve out deep-work sessions in your own life. […] [T]he two keys for me have been space and schedule. I make sure my deep-work sessions are always done in the same place, and I make sure I have scheduled them at least a day in advance. At the end of every workday, I know when my next deep-work time will happen. My second recommendation represents a turn in an entirely different direction […] but it has equally powerful potential to bring greater attention and well-being into your life, and most of us already do it every day: walking. 

James M. Lang (Author of Distracted: Why Students Can't Focus and What You Can Do About It (2020))  |  Professor of English and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Assumption College

Additional Resources

If you are a graduate student looking for assistance with the nuts and bolts of writing, consider enrolling in our course Principles and Practice of Writing for Graduate Students (GC512) and/or making an appointment with the UIC Writing Center.  Be sure to specify “graduate-level writing” from the pull-down menu or when speaking with a scheduler. In Spring 2017, the Writing Center piloted group peer-editing workshops. If would like to see more of those, please contact the Writing Center and let them know!

Looking for writing grants? Please see the link below.

Interested in other writing groups at UIC and elsewhere? We took our inspiration from the Institution for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP) and its “WriteOut” sessions. See below. The Institute for the  Humanities often hosts writing retreats as well.

Lastly, the Graduate College subsidizes the UIC’s institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). See the link below.

"Unplug and Write": Tips from the Planners of Color Interest Group (POCIG)

In January, 2021, Ivis Garcia Zambrana (University of Utah) and Natalia Villamizar Duarte (Universidad Nacional de Colombia) organized a New Year POCIG Retreat entitled “Unplug and Write.” These alumni of UIC’s urban planning and public policy doctoral program have kindly shared their goal, objectives, and highlights with us to encourage WritersON to form their own writing retreats! (Natalia is a long-time WriteON participant, both as student and as an alumna; text edited for concision and clarity.)

Goal: To write an week setting your own goals and to join 3 check-in and writing sessions (Monday, Wed., Mon.).

Objectives: (1) to explore tools that can help the writing process; (2) to collaborative develop a writing plan

Session 1 included:

  1. Sharing of goal and objectives
  2. Discussing strategies to help you write:
    1. Think of yourself as a writer, practicing daily for 30 minutes
    2. Consistent time and place to write – routine!
    3. Put writing in your calendar
    4. Sustaining rituals: coffee, meditation, music, timer
    5. Daily reward (food, walk)
    6. Establish accountability
    7. Assess, reassess your routine, rituals, process
    8. Other strategies suggested by participants:
  3. Other strategies suggested by participants:
    1. Meet with your advisor weekly; set an agenda
    2. Stuck? Trying recording your thoughts/ideas (using phone)
    3. Carry a notebook to jot down ideas
    4. Stuck? Free write
    5. Use intertextual or marginal comments to yourself:  “I don’t think this structure works…but I need to include XYZ”
    6. Use track changes with ‘view all markup’
    7. Set realistic goals; expect a poor first draft
    8. Classical playlist? White noise on YouTube?
    9. Set deadlines
  4. Resources:
    1. Countdown timers, alarms, and time-tracking apps like Toggl or on YouTube
    2. Self journal
    3. Cube office
    4. Louise Dunlap, “Undoing the Silence: Six Tools for Social Change
      Writing,” (2007). Available in JSTOR
    5. Watch “Ferocious Editing” and/or “The Craft of Writing Effectively”

WriteON Contact