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Looking to Beat that Writer’s Block?

March 4, 2016

Human hand with pen writing document and crumpled paper on table

By Kate Shaw

Ask almost any graduate student, and they’ll tell you that writing is one of the most important aspects of their graduate studies. For some, it may also be the most challenging aspect of their studies. It can become difficult for many of us to defeat the twin demons of procrastination and writer’s block, and often writing at home or somewhere on campus may lead to loads of distractions.  So, what is a graduate student to do? That’s where write-ins come in. A write-in allows students to bring their projects, papers, laptops, and/or writing goals to a typically quiet space that allows for total concentration in a distraction-free, supportive, and accountable environment.

Graduate Student Life hosts a Write-In Day on the Fairfax campus once each semester. The rules are simple: come prepared to switch off the phone, abstain from Facebook and other social media, and concentrate on your writing for an entire day (well, at least from 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) At the beginning of the day, students are given the opportunity to share their perspectives with each other on what writing habits work best for them and are also given the opportunity to share any goals for the day. Students are then assigned to rooms on campus to write for two 3-hour blocks, with a lunch in between. Students are often paired in a room with students who are working on similar projects. During the day, staffs from Learning Services are also available for individual consultations on improving writing or time management techniques.

The next Write-in Day will be held on Saturday, April 13, 8:30 am-5:00pm. Registration is free, but required, and closes Friday, March 29 at noon.  Spaces are limited to 30 participants, and all Mason graduate students are invited to register. Meals, snacks, and coffee will be provided. To register, visit the Write-In Day webpage.

In addition to the Graduate Student Life Write-In Day, the Writing Center, in partnership with Gateway Library, offers weekly write-ins during the semester for graduate students.  The write-ins are held on Friday mornings from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and the writers gather in Fenwick 3001.  Like the Graduate Student Life Write-In Day, students who attend the Writing Center Write-Ins are committing to arriving on time and staying the duration of the time in order to fully accomplish their goals.  Students have the option of discussing their writing goals with a tutor and can attend as many sessions during a semester as they’d like. The Writing Center encourages students to sign up in advance, as the write-ins are a popular resource. The libraries also have group writing spaces available for reservation.

Writing is an essential, yet sometimes extremely difficult part of the graduate student experience. The good news is sometimes all you need is some time blocked off, a distraction-free environment, and the support of other writers. The better news is that whatever your writing needs may be, there’s a good chance that Mason has the resources you need to help you power through. To find out more about resources to help you improve your writing, contact the Writing Center, Learning Services, and/or University Libraries.


This blog post has been edited and updated to reflect current changes in information.

Edited by Arsadur Rahman, 02/26/2019


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