How to get the most out of your undergrad writing groups

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
by Allison Ho

So, you’re looking for ways to stay connected with the student community while getting schoolwork done. Joining a writing group seems to be the best fit because it looks like fun and a great way to meet others in university. But what exactly are writing groups and are there any benefits to being part of one? 

Hi! I’m Allison, WCC Readiness Ambassador for the fall 2021 term. During these 4 months, I had the opportunity to host the WCC’s PJ-Friendly Writing Groups for Undergrads and discovered so many ways to get the most out of them. Today, I want to share some tips with you so you can apply them when you attend any of our future writing group sessions!

A man and a woman sitting in a classroom laughing
Writing groups aim to support peers in their writing, as the name suggests. In fact, they’re like study groups but focused on writing and communication tasks specifically.

As a participant, you’ll meet with the same group of people on a specific day of the week to brainstorm, provide constructive feedback (only as requested), motivate each other, and have a good time with like-minded people.

Hosting the PJ-Friendly Writing Groups during the fall 2021 term was an enriching experience for me. I met other undergraduate students from different faculties with the same goal in mind: to get some writing done while supporting each other during the process. At the beginning, it may be intimidating to share what you’re working on or ask for help. However, as time passes, you build trust with others and realize all the benefits of sharing your story with the group. 

What to expect before each session

The PJ-Friendly Writing Groups are divided into two sessions consisting of 45 minutes each. Every time we meet with the group, the structure of the session follows this pattern:

Introduction & ice breakers:

We begin each session by introducing ourselves with fun ice breakers so everyone can get to know each other before working on their communication tasks.

Goal setting

Afterwards, all participants are encouraged to share their writing goals and ask any questions they have. This is very important so that we have a clear direction regarding what we will be working on and the goals we want to achieve after the session is done. It is also a great way to track your progress and be accountable to the group.

First 45-minute session begins

When the first 45-minute session begins, everyone has time to work on their own. If a question arises, you can unmute yourself or send a message to the host who will always be available to help you.

10-minute break

Following the first part of the session, we set aside only 10 minutes to discuss how everyone has progressed so far and help others if needed.

Last 45-minute session begins

Finally, we resume working on our communication tasks during these last 45 minutes, then wrap up the session. This is my favorite part of the writing groups because everyone gets to see how much they have advanced on their assignments and it makes you feel satisfied with the productive time you spent with the group!

Now that you know what to expect in each of our writing groups, let’s find out what some of the benefits are of meeting with your peers.  

Joining a writing group has so many benefits! As a participant, you will be able to:

Light up sign with the words
Stay motivated & avoid procrastination

For me, seeing that others are working on their assignments gives me an extra push to work on mine too. Also, when everyone shares their writing goals at the beginning of the session, I feel accountable to the group. In other words, writing groups help you avoid procrastination, since others are counting on you to be an active participant in the group.  

Get constructive feedback

people sitting in front of a laptop having a conversation
Giving and receiving constructive feedback is not a mandatory part of the writing group experience. Some people like to just work on their own projects and share their goals in a group setting – and that’s perfectly okay! Regardless of whether you are seeking feedback or not, being part of a supportive environment of like-minded people is a huge advantage because everyone in the group knows it is a safe place to share their ideas and writing.

As a result, you are more likely to feel satisfied, rather than frustrated, by your writing process, and end up with a great paper to hand in. Additionally, you can find inspiration in the different perspectives and ideas your peers share during the session.

Group of people sitting around a table talking
Meet new people

Writing groups, as with any other social groups or clubs, are a great way to meet new people. As you attend more sessions throughout the term, you will get to know the other students in the group, who like you, are also looking for ways to get involved in the student community here at UW. In fact, at the PJ-Friendly Writing Groups I have met amazing people who shared some of my interests and from whom I learned new things too!

Final thoughts

To finish off, make sure that before you attend any session, you’re prepared with a piece of writing or any communication assignment you would like to work on. Also, having questions in mind before the session start can help if you’re looking to get constructive feedback from others that you could incorporate to your writing.

Lastly, I highly recommend being part of writing groups because of all the benefits you will get after attending each session. By being consistent, you will notice the progress you’ve made in your academic and personal performance thanks to working collaboratively in the new writing community you’ll be part of.

Interested on joining us this term? Find the latest updates on when our PJ-Friendly Writing Groups for Undergrads are happening and build your new community of writers today!