This year I’ve been facilitating an informal monthly peer writing group, as part of my work as a graduate assistant. I’ll be starting work on my Master’s thesis this summer (eep!), and my colleagues and I hope to continue the tradition of meeting once a week or so to check in with each other.
Before this year, I had never taken advantage of a peer-led writing group before; now, however, I find them indispensable. Here are some of the many benefits they offer:
Dedicated quiet time for writing. This is harder to come by than it sounds. When I was working on my undergraduate thesis, I learned that writing, like anything else, needs to be scheduled. If you don’t plan for it, it won’t happen (just like the gym…). Regularly setting aside time to meet with other students who also need to put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is one good way of making sure your writing ends up your calendar.
Accountability. …Especially important with longer, sustained writing projects like a thesis or capstone, where the ability to work independently and set deadlines for yourself is key. Meeting with the same group of peers every week ensures that you will have to face someone (besides your thesis advisor) and admit what kind of progress you have, or haven’t, made. I promise this is a good thing.
Someone to brainstorm with. Hitting the dreaded brick wall we know as writer’s block? Round up a few friends from your program. Explaining your ideas out loud will naturally help to clarify things for you, and I bet your colleagues will have some great insight for you, too.
Someone to revise with. Fact: none of us is capable of birthing a piece of writing perfectly on the first try. But we like to think we are, mostly because revision is such a painful process. It can be hard to identify where you as a writer are making a logical leap that your reader can’t follow. Getting a second pair of eyes on your writing can help pinpoint those big changes that need to occur before your final draft is due.
Someone to edit with. Sometimes you have just been looking at something for TOO. LONG. When this happens, you simply become blind to all the little typos that somehow snuck in. True story. Exchange papers with another member of your group to make sure everything in your paper is word-perfect.
The best thing about a peer-led writing group? It’s a flexible enough model to be whatever you need it to be. So find a few buddies and get writing!
Now it’s your turn: have you ever attended a peer-led writing group before? Would you? Share your experiences in the comments!