By Siobhan O’Dwyer
Shut Up & Write Tuesdays is pretty simple. You shut up, you write, and it’s on Tuesdays. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity. When it’s done right, Shut Up & Write Tuesdays is a powerful way to develop, maintain, and protect an academic writing practice.
Developed by creative writers in San Francisco in the late 2000s, the Shut Up & Write model was quickly co-opted by academic writers and has been gaining in popularity ever since. Although there are no set activities and no feedback is provided on the writing that’s produced, academics have found that writing together in a public place makes the writing process visible and social, provides a positive sense of peer pressure, enhances networks, and increases productivity (Mewburn, Osborne & Caldwell, 2014). But for those who work remotely or part-time, have family responsibilities, or juggle teaching and research, it can be hard to meet in a physical location. So in 2013 I created Shut Up & Write Tuesdays, a virtual Shut Up & Write group that allows academics from all over the world to come together on Twitter.
A recent evaluation (O’Dwyer , McDonough, Jefferson, Goff & Redman-Maclaren, in press) found that Shut Up & Write Tuesdays fostered a sense of community, provided support and guidance for writing, shifted the emphasis from product to process, and led to quantifiable outcomes such as academic journal articles, books, book chapters, and PhD theses. By virtue of the digital format, these experiences were also international and inter-disciplinary.
From humble beginnings in 2013, Shut Up & Write Tuesdays has expanded into a global community. There are now three Twitter accounts – @SUWTues (for folks in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific, and parts of Asia), @SUWTUK (for folks in the UK, Europe, and parts of Africa and the Middle East), and @SUWTNA (for folks in America and Canada) – which received more than one million views in the first six months of this year alone. And as Shut Up & Write Tuesdays has grown, it has also come full circle, with many of our online participants being inspired to set up offline groups.
Whether you’re writing online or face-to-face, the steps are simple:
- Set your intention for the session. Telling others what you’ll be working on keeps you accountable.
- Use the Pomodoro Write for 25 minutes, have a 5-minute break, rinse and repeat.
- Share your progress. Telling others how you went is a powerful way to reflect on your own practice.
- Encourage the progress of others. Supporting others helps you build a community and learn that you are not alone in your writing struggles.
- Reward yourself. Treating yourself to coffee, cake, or a walk in the sunshine is the most important part of the writing process.
Editors Note: USQ researchers can join others to write on Toowoomba and Springfield campuses at 10-11am on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month. Check your ReDTrain Bulletin email for details.