The Grad Writing Café: an antidote to my weekly writing hurdles

Students working

For over a year now, the Writing and Communication Centre (WCC) has been hosting weekly group writing sessions on Fridays from 9am-12pm. Graduate students in attendance follow the Pomodoro technique where they write for 25 min followed by a 5-min break. It is a fantastic idea but just like everyone else, it was difficult to make the Writing Café a part of my routine. So, in September 2016, I decided to volunteer as the Pomodoro facilitator (a.k.a. “the timer”). There were days when I cursed myself for volunteering at 9 am on a Friday! But as soon as the timer starts, I just feel the productivity boost, one Pomodoro at a time. Often, writing can be an isolating task but at the Café, working in the company of others helps me get motivated. The writing is less painful and I enjoy getting to know the regulars as well.

Also, one of the biggest hurdles in writing a manuscript, conference paper, or a thesis chapter is avoiding distractions. The Pomodoro technique has a very simple purpose: focus for 25 min on a single task. These short bursts of productivity help me manage my daunting writing tasks quite easily. I am also constantly productive and motivated because of the regular breaks. A set of Pomodoro is usually done in the following order:

  1. Schedule your writing task.
  2. Set the timer for 25 min.
  3. Work on the task without letting yourself get distracted (no emails or social media).
  4. Take a 5-min break.
  5. Complete these three more times and take a longer break (15 min).

The Writing Café is a positive and safe environment that has inspired me to follow better writing habits. I also realized that there is no better way to start your weekend than to join the Grad Writing Café on Fridays from 9am -12pm at SCH 228F! Just bring your laptop and a mug. Coffee, tea, and snacks are provided.

Maricor Arlos is a PhD Candidate in Biology. Her work is water research-focused that involves the modeling of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in riverine environments and linking the exposure to observed physiological changes in native fish species. She is also working on novel treatment technologies that can degrade EDCs. She lives in Kitchener with her husband and two cats, enjoys yoga, and practices hygge. 

NEW! The Writing and Communication Centre now hosts the Grad Writing Café on Friday AND Tuesday mornings!

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