The Writing Oasis is organized by the Center for Writing and Communicating Ideas at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. It provides a space for accountability, productivity, and peer support. As one participant described, “It’s like going to a gym and taking a group class instead of running alone on the treadmill.”
At the start of each Writing Oasis session, writers share their writing goals with a group of peers. Participants then write for a predetermined amount of time, with break periods embedded, to achieve their objective. At the end of the session, participants share their experiences and discuss whether or not they met their goals.
How Can the Writing Oasis Help?
Writing a dissertation has some identified challenges:
- Where do I begin?
- How do I structure my dissertation?
- What’s my primary, encompassing argument? What are my secondary arguments?
- What does my data actually say?
- Am I missing data?
- What theory does this data speak to?
- I feel like my work has me running in circles.
- What does a good dissertation look like?
- How do I map this all out?
What is a Writing Oasis?
The Writing Oasis is. . .
- A space to articulate a measurable objective and goal (“I want to write an ethnographic vignette on X for my third chapter, I expect that to take 3-5 pages of writing”).
- A space to set a timer for writing periods and break periods.
- A space to have 2-10 peers who also share their goals and also commit to write without distraction during the writing blocks.
- A space to be held accountable at the end of the session to see if articulated goals were reached or share writing struggles, if helpful.
- A space to track if there are reoccurring reasons one is distracted from their writing (Physical needs? Missing knowledge of material? Missing data? Lack of direction/what’s next? Apprehension about writing quality? Language barrier? Other?).
- A space to chat with peers in the same stage to offer strategies and simply be in community across difficulty.
Writing Oasis Opportunities 2019–2020
The Writing Oasis offers several opportunities for engagement, which change slightly from year to year depending on interest and resources. If you are interested in any of the opportunities below or would like to suggest a new one, please contact Adam Stack with the CWCI.
The Dissertation Writing Cohort
Meets twice a week (Monday and Wednesday mornings) for 3-4 hour blocks to collectively and accountably write. Cohort members have a check-in with an Oasis convener once a semester to discuss the process of writing their dissertation and their plans for the semester, in the process troubleshooting recognized or foreseen challenges. In between the regular writing sessions occasional workshops (at maximum monthly) are scheduled to support writers in overcoming common writing hurdles such as: Mapping the Dissertation, Making the Most of the Writing Year, Effectively Incorporating Literature and Theory, Mindfulness While Writing. The vast majority of Oasis scheduled time is time spent writing the dissertation. Participation in the cohort requires an application and commitment like one would to teach a class.
The Writing Oasis at Longwood
Meets weekly at Longwood for a 3-4 hour block (Monday afternoons) to collectively and accountably write. Cohort members have a check-in with an Oasis convener once a semester to discuss the process of writing their project and their plans for the semester, including troubleshooting recognized or anticipated challenges. The vast majority of Oasis scheduled time is time spent writing the dissertation. Participation in the cohort requires an application and commitment like one would to teach a class.
The Emerson Writing Accountability Group (EMWAG)
A lighter version of the Dissertation Writing Cohort described above. It meets Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Emerson Hall from 9am to 12p. It does not include workshops but does include writing in community with light accountability. It is not limited to dissertation writers.
The Reading Period, Spring Break, and Retreat Daylong Writing Oasis
Occur several times throughout the year, often during vacations, reading periods, weekends, and breaks. Announcements will be made in advance and writers can sign up as interested. It is not limited to dissertation writers.
The Impromptu Whatsapp Writing Group
A Whatsapp Group (a phone-based messaging app) of various Oasis attendees who communicate to the group an intention to work or write using the Oasis format, a location to meet, and arrange spontaneous community writing and working sessions as is helpful for their productivity. This group is most active for early morning sessions, late night sessions, weekends and holidays but is by no means limited to them.