In 2008 the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center (FDIDC) instituted a writing circle to assist new and continuing faculty with their efforts toward writing scholarly work. Shortly after the end of each spring semester, FDIDC and the university’s writing across the curriculum program offers a workshop titled: Write Well, Publish More! The daylong workshop puts into practice the habits that successful, publishing writers use. Participants in this workshop learn tips and techniques to getting started writing, nailing down the central idea, finding their voice, gathering feedback and revising their work. Participants practice techniques for meeting readers’ expectations, sustaining their project, and seeing it through.
As a benefit of participating in the workshop, faculty members are invited to join a writing circle that is facilitated by the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. The writing circle is structured around Elizabeth Rankin’s book, The Work of Writing: Insights and Strategies for Academics and Professionals. The writing circle helps them to find their professional voice, both as a writer of one’s own work and a reader of others’ work. Writers receive constructive feedback from members who represent a range of disciplines – this has proven to be beneficial because of the different viewpoints and writing styles each member brings to the circle.
Writing Circle Structure
- The writing circle meeting time and day is scheduled based on the majority of those faculty members who express an interest in joining the writing circle.
- The writing circle meets one hour once a week for the entire semester. This helps build camaraderie and trust.
- Writing circle members select at least one day of the semester to submit their work. The work is then discussed in the writing circle the following week. The work should include a cover page in which the writer provides details about the work and questions he or she has of the writers.
- All writing circle members are expected to read each work submitted and provide constructive feedback for the writer.
- The “reader’s” role before discussion is to read the work submitted and prepare constructive feedback for the writer, answering the questions the writer provided. The readers’ role during discussion is to follow the prompts of a) clarification round, b) positive comment round, c) writer’s questions round, and d) other comments, questions, suggestions round. All comments should be helpful and constructive.
- The “writer’s” role during discussion of his or her work is to listen and take notes and to answer questions from readers.
Writing Circle Guiding Principles
- Conversations that occur within the writing circle should not be shared outside the writing circle.
- Writing circle members would benefit from attending the Write Well, Publish More! Workshop, which is typically offered shortly after the spring semester.
- Writing circle members are encouraged to leave the circle after a full year to start a circle of their own, sharing what they have learned in the initial writing circle with a new group of members. This new writing circle could be made up of faculty from the same academic discipline or include faculty from diverse disciplines.
Writing circles benefit new and experienced faculty and can encourage productivity through a caring and collaborative environment. The feedback shared in the circle is constructive and diverse and helps faculty at all stages of their writing.