Shut Up and Write!
Shut Up and Write started life as the Supporting PGR Writing project (2018-2021), led by Kelly Preece (Researcher Development Manager) and funded by the University of Exeter Alumni Annual Fund. SUAW is an online writing space supported by the Doctoral College and run by a team of PGRs. It is open to anyone across the PGR community, whatever subject your are studying and wherever you are based. SUAW offers structured sessions using the pomodoro technique, which Cirillo (1980) named after a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. The objective of the pomodoro technique is to focus on one short task for 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. The aim is to find support (or a sense of belonging) in the PGR community, avoid procastination and improve productivity. SUAW offers two hour online study blocks throughout the week as follows:
- Early birds 8 – 10 am
- Mid-morning 10 - 12 noon
- Afternoon 2 – 4 pm
- Night owls 6 - 8 pm
There are also regular Saturday sessions for those researching part-time. The SUAW sessions are completely flexible and PGRs are able to pop in and out of sessions as needed, and there is no pressure to commit to a whole session.
SUAW is an excellent online space to start that bit of work you have been putting off or delaying. Common uses of SUAW include; writing ideas, chapter outlines, coding, making notes, planning work or and getting words down. Each participant sets their own agenda, and everyone is welcome.
So, what are you waiting for, come and join us! SUAW takes place on our PGR Writing Microsoft Team, you just need to request to join!
Sam Pullman, PGR in Education
SUAW Co-ordinator - Jo Sutherst, PGR in Humantites
Jo is a part-time distance PhD student based in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK researching the role of the selfie process in the construction and communication of identity on social media. You can find out more about her on Twitter @JoSutherst and Instagram @jo_sutherst_photography, and about her research on Twitter @CyborgianSelf and Instagram @cyborgian_self.
Our faciltators are:
Sabrin Hasbun, PGR in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Umas Chao Long Jin, PGR in Humanities
Umas is a PhD researcher in English with interests in Virginia Woolf and medical humanities. Apart from research, Umas loves weightlifting, baking, and singing. You can find out more about Umas on Twitter @umasjin.
Sam Jones, PGR in Humanities
Sam is a PhD candidate in Maritime History and researching the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) between 1849 and 1897. This is her second time around as a doctoral student. She is a part-time PGR and a very distant learner at Exeter as she lives on the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland. As well as her full time job, she is an RNLI volunteer. She was a crew member and navigator on Tobermory RNLI lifeboat but she's now the station's volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager. She previously studied Law at the London School of Economics and she has a DPhil in Socio-Legal Studies from the University of Oxford. She returned to academia 26 years after finishing her doctorate in 1992 and she's currently loving PGR life.
Beth Mills, PGR in Humanities
Samantha Pulman, PGR in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Sam is a second year PhD Student. After many years as a frontline social work practitioner, she has turned her attention to social work education. Her research explores the connections between sustainability as a wider concept and theory base to prepare social workers for practice. Sam also enjoys volunteering with community groups and taking part in citizen science projects. She has a keen interest in ecology, people and place. You can contact Sam on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nicolle Sturdevant, PGR in Humanities
Nicolle is a Pagan Chaplain researching shared sacred landscapes in Scotland and Wales. You can find out more about Nicolle on Twitter @Eyebright7501.
Tracey Warren, PGR in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Tracey is a part time international student within the discipline of education. She has been within education for over 34 years as a teacher, headteacher, senior leader within a local authority and then she worked in the UAE for 9 years. She loves working with children, young people and their families and that is what led her to a post graduate research degree with Exeter. She repatriated to the UK September 2019 to focus on the EdD, spend time with her elderly parents and renovate a 1736 cottage in Kent. You can find out more about Tracey on her eprofile and on LinkedIn.
Mengya Zhao, PGR in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Maddy Millar, PGR in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Maddy is a first-year PhD student in the Law School. Her research focusses on combining Law and Psychology to investigate how jurors evaluate evidence in the criminal justice system. In particular, she is investigating how jurors may be biased by their ideas of how they think the status quo should work. You can find more about Maddy on Twitter @_MaddyMillar and on Instagram @_MaddyMillar.
Ellen Lesser, PGR in the College of Humanities
Laure Olivier, PGR in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Rebecca Baker, PGR in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Rebecca is an Associate Lecturer in the Politics Department and has an additional role within Project Enhance, working on the digitalisation of teaching and learning. Rebecca teaches political theory, contemporary politics, and public policy at undergraduate level, as well as supervising students in their final year dissertations. Her research interests focus on empirical and conceptual democratic theory and the interaction between these. Rebecca’s current work explores how the liberal dominance in conceptualisation of democracy within state apparatus can lead to exclusion from democratic life, and the impact of this on young people and their politics. Methodologically, Rebecca is a mixed methods researcher, prioritizing the addition of contextualising qualitative-based narratives to quantitative data. You can find out more about Rebecca on her staff profile, and on Twitter @RMJBaker.
Rana Hanash, PGR in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Daniela Fernandez, PGR in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Pauline McGonagle, PGR in the College of Humanities
Pauline is now (2022) in the submission year for her part-time PhD which is an AHRC -funded collaborative project with the British Library on the bequeathed archive of the writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927-2013). Pauline’s thesis focuses on the theme of ‘disinheritance and identity constructions’ in Jhabvala’s prose work. Pauline was the Sasha Roberts scholar at University of Kent where she did her Masters in Postcolonial Studies after an English Literature degree with The Open University. Pauline now works as a freelance editor and proofreader, an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editors and Proofreaders.
In her former life, she was a secondary teacher and pastoral head, having studied or Music and Geography degrees and Postgraduate Education Diploma at University College Cork, Ireland. She taught in her home county of Donegal, in Zimbabwe for an Irish Aid organisation, as a private tutor in Moscow and in schools in London and in Dover, where she now lives. Pauline has done less travelling (haven’t we all) since 2019, but still continues to switch off from work by doing Pilates and choir singing- though has not yet tried both activities at the same time! You can find our more about Pauline on her student profile, British Library case study and on Twitter @rpjatBL.
Peter Underwood, PGR in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies
Peter is in his submission year of his part-time PhD he is also a Lecturer in the Law department. Peter’s research investigates the role of corporate power in the context of corporate groups and how technology could be implemented. Peter teaches Company Law, Corporate Governance and Land Law at undergraduate level and supervises students with research dissertations.
Over the course of the PGR Writing project, and to share our experiences, a number of blog posts, research posters and presentations have been delivered about the impact of PGR writing groups. We have also created resources to help you run your own PGR writing groups. Here are a few to help you get a sense not only of what we do, but it's impact on PGR productivity, wellbeing and sense of community.
- Why I go to Shut Up and Write by Sam Pullman
- Finding the 'write path': how writing groups help postgraduate researchers by Caitlin Kight, Kelly Preece and Jo Sutherst
- Shut Up and Write by Jo Sutherst
- An update on the Supporting PGR Writing Project and the launch of a new resource! by Kelly Preece
- Writing: the most amazing and challenging thing you will ever do by Diana Maria Valencia Duarte
- On crippling inadequacy, #remoteretreat, and chocolate cheesecake brownies by Edward Mills
- What actually happens as Write Club? by Kelly Preece
- The first rule about Write Club is... by Kelly Preece
- Supporting Postgraduate Researcher Writing by Kelly Preece for the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference 2019
- Supporting PGR Writing by Jo Sutherst for South West Educational Developers Autumn Meeting 2020
- Supporting Postgraduate Researchers to Write: Developing a Doctoral College Write Club by Kelly Preece and Sally Flint for the Graduate School of Education Research Conference 2018
For me, one big realisation was my first SUAW group, back in April 2018. We did pomodori, and that was perhaps the single biggest revelation, right there at the start: that you need to work when you work, and break when you break. Don’t mix them up: keep them separate. Switch off the email and the so-called ‘social media, avoid them as long as poss. I was soon addicted to SUAW on Friday mornings.
Later I attended a full day Writer’s Retreat, where we were doing 2 hour blocks of writing. I found that I was able to do that, having got the hang of the 25-minute pomodori.
Later still I facilitated similar writers’ retreats, which I really enjoyed.
I spent a lot of time writing my thesis. I mean a *lot*. Starting work at 7am in the library and writing steadily until lunchtime, through all the seasons. I had a kind of confidence about what I was doing that I learnt partly through simply sitting together in silence with a load of other people. I wouldn’t have written such a good thesis, in such a short time, without the discipline that I learnt on SUAW.
But also, attending and facilitating sessions has shown me all kinds of things: that we can build meaningful connections across faculties and departments. That we can learn from each other. That we are writers, that I am a writer – this is what it’s all about. That PhDs can be *very* different from each other. That we can help each other, and that such help is just as valuable as what we get from supervisors.
Dr. Ghee Bowman, Doctoral graduate and Postdoctoral researcher in History
Having a community to share ‘space’ with while you work has been hugely beneficial. Even if one of us gets distracted during a session we can share this, and the others immediately jump in with support. Anything goes in these sessions, we can spend a session writing emails, prepping for teaching, writing the news in Cornish for the BBC, chapter structures, re-writes, editing, documents for supervisors and so on. All these are part of the PhD journey and SU&W allows for this and so the academic guilt is diffused. We know all these things have to be done, that we work at our own pace, we all have upgrades and vivas and these achievements are celebrated between us as a shared victory. It’s a joy to be a part of. We all have good days, bad days and epic days. We wander down rabbit holes and meet dead ends, but we still discover because we write. As individuals we write, collectively, we write, everyone produces something by the end of the two hours, even if we bring that work back again to the next session for re-working. There is always output, and this is reinforced by the collective creativity and the differences between us. The differences can be subject matter, location, age, gender or simply our departments. We are a community through our shared experiences of the PhD and the writing groups build upon this. We are not alone in our project or thesis even as we have been told that a PhD can be a lonely endeavour at times because our work is unique to all of us. In SU&W we share ideas and resources and have discovered how our research overlaps. This established (for me at least) that research is both communal and has wider application is spaces many of us had not foreseen. SU&W is a community of communication, support and productivity that is simultaneously fun, engaging, rewarding and academically and socially fulfilling.
Lucy Hilliar, PGR in History
Shut up and write has been a godsend during these difficult times. The feeling of togetherness and support that they provide has kept me sane and kept me focused. I feel connected to my peers. I feel supported by their motivation and encouragement. Without the shut up and write groups things would have been very different. Without the virtual arms around me this journey would have been a lonely one . I feel at ease in the group, like being sat in a pub with friends. We laugh, we joke, we are serious about our work. We share our problems and our difficulties, helping to find solutions and to push each other forward. The sense of belonging is vital in this world of pandemic. I am not alone.
Jo Sutherst, PGR in Art History and Visual Cultures