When Lindsey Kennedy, PhD, joined the Department of Medicine’s summer Writing Accountability Group (WAG), she expected “to meet with a group of peers once a week to write in silence.”
Instead, Kennedy, who is an assistant research professor of medicine, said participating in the WAG was a game-changer for her writing habits.
“The group allowed us to create a space to share our writing accomplishments, goals, and frustrations, which created camaraderie and identified shared experiences,” she said.
Kennedy said she learned tips and tools to help streamline and maximize her writing process.
“Specifically, tools for increasing focus, setting aside writing time, and setting attainable goals were of the most value to me,” she said, and they “are processes I continue to use in my day-to-day writing duties.”
The Department of Medicine WAG was developed by Sylk Sotto, EdD, MBA, MPS. This year, the group met virtually once a week over 10-12 weeks and followed a strict agenda, utilizing writing tools, sharing updates, and setting goals. Sotto said the idea is for each member to focus on developing a process and habit of writing that ultimately lead to a scholarly product. Past participants have reported increased writing frequency and better organizational skills for focused writing, and many exceed their initial goals, she said.
“Of all the professional development programs I have been part of and developed in my life, writing accountability groups demonstrate the most tangible results,” she said.
Clare Prohaska, MD, also participated in the group this summer. She has always found writing consistently to be a challenge, she said, so she joined the group to work on writing on a weekly basis.
“This group helped me to achieve this goal, and by hearing about others' successes made me even more inspired to continue writing even after the group ended,” she said.
Sotto said that since academic writing is highly structured, protecting even a bit of time for writing and using project management and organizational tools can go a long way.
“I haven’t met the faculty member that says they have plenty of time to write,” she said. “The accountability of being in a group with others where you have to share your goal and reflect on your own relationship with writing to break down some of the barriers is incredibly helpful."
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Hannah Calkins is the communications manager for the Department of Medicine.