Shut up and write – works for me!

A post on The Thesis Whisperer inspired me to try something new and fresh in order to improve my commitment to and experience of writing for my PhD. As I have been struggling to put down words on paper lately, ‘Shut up and write’ seemed like something I could do, following the idea of meeting up with a few people willing to write (in my case a fellow PhD students struggling with writing and focus), having a chat, then writing for an hour then talking some more – could it be any more simple?

I was indeed looking forward to the first session and armed with my laptop and some notes I headed to the meeting. Chats are always good – we share the good and bad of our experience as research students, hence I wasn’t worried about how would that go. We talked about what we are up to in our projects, we talked about Easter and painting eggs… After 15 minutes we set a countdown for 45 minutes and the writing began.

At first I couldn’t organise myself as I felt distracted by the surrounding noise but that lasted only for a few minutes. Next thing I know, I was vigorously tapping on my keyboard trying to verbalise all my thoughts. It felt good and empowering as the words were spilling on the blank page. The more words I was getting, the more I wanted to write. The fact that there were two more people with me also writing was boosting my motivation. Honestly, thought I could feel the ideas flying in the air.

45 minutes later I had 1036 words on the page and a sense of satisfaction, but that’s not all. I just wanted to sit at my desk and keep writing until I fully develop my piece (FYI it was my dear theoretical framework). Before leaving, I jot some notes where I am up to with writing and what I plan to do next. Then we had another 10 minutes of chat reflecting on the overall experience and our writing achievements. We talked about the amount we’ve written and how that relates to what each of us was working on, we thought it was a motivating technique and a good way to share writing anxieties instead of struggling in front of the computer alone. Writing doesn’t need to be a solitary activity, there are more people in a similar position, so why not do some of it together…

In retrospect, I had another very successful ‘Shut up and write’ session a few days later and now I know that this works for me. It also worked for my two writing partners and we’ve decided to make it a regular. I’m looking forward to the next one!

And just a note, SoE students, you are welcome to join us next time 🙂

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