Session 11: Looking backwards and forwards

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We wanted to use the final session this term of this collective, collaborative ‘experiment’ in supporting doctoral writing as an opportunity for everyone to reflect back on what (if anything) they felt they and gained from participating. At the same time we wanted to project forwards in terms of how this might impact future, ongoing development, and what else we would like to happen next. In keeping with the tradition of the group’s activity, we addressed these questions through a combination of quiet freewriting, ‘buzzing’ in pairs, and whole group discussion in which people could choose to share input about what they had written or how they felt about the process.

Given that one of the original aims of the group had been to support participants not only in progressing with thesis writing, but also in moving towards any other academic writing for publication in progress, plan, or mind, we spent some time freewriting around this – whether developing thinking further, or reflecting on how we feel about it, including where we might be feeling stuck.

As well as discussion, we also shared some lunch and wine, and Louise Gazeley joined us for the session. We finished the term with reflective discussion around our experience of the group that included the recognition of writing as process rather than product. People reflected further on the experience of being part of what felt like a community of writers, ‘pushing aside power structures for equitable sharing of the joys and struggles of writing’, and the particular value experienced of being with others at a similar stage in the doctoral writing process. The discussion included the ostensibly simple question of ‘why do we do academic writing?’ This challenged us to revisit original passions and motivations in being in higher education, and acknowledge the complexity of the requirements made of us by academia.

The photo is by no means inclusive of the larger number of voices who contributed so valuably to the group, but simply the last stragglers left at the end of the final session after term had ended, and on a day when others were kept away by train strikes.

Thank you everyone for being part of a collaborative experience that foremost, got us all writing. We look forward to exploring ways to build on this further in 2017.

Emily, Rebecca, Tamsin x

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