I'll admit it: I sometimes use my personal blog as therapy for the anxiety and loneliness I've felt along the way during my struggle to obtain a Ph.D. On the other end of the blogosphere void is an omnipresent, if ever silent, entity just waiting to contain all of my pre-graduation fears. Despite dear blog's willingness to quietly accept, if not respond to, my neurotic meanderings, I knew that I needed a healthier and more productive way to get peer support in this process.
At the beginning of the summer, I set out with a goal in mind: to finish four chapters of my dissertation--one for every month of summer break--before the Fall semester started. Scared, unmotivated, and still drained from finishing and defending my prospectus, this task seemed enormous. I started to do some research online, and I came across the scary statistic that only half of ABD status doctoral students ever complete their Ph.D. Reasons include much of what I've already discussed; that is, we all get a little lonely and discouraged along the way. This human response coupled with the overwhelming task of writing something so important--yet so traditionally elusive and incoherently defined--necessitated the creation of a group to quell these concerns. Born from my own desire for a community of like-minded students is the Graduate Writing Support Group.
The Graduate Writing Support Group (GWSG) is a new academic collective of pre-Ph.D. scholars. Though we are housed in the English Department in Patterson Hall at the University of Memphis, I imagine us becoming an outreach entity for interdisciplinary support. We meet once a month and share ideas for creating and starting dissertation projects, formatting CVs and cover letters, presenting at conferences, preparing for job interviews, and publishing in academic journals. Though the ultimate goal is to beat the post-ABD statistics, thus assisting with doctoral student retention and creating positive statistics within our department, this group will also be a catch-all informational organization for every step from entering graduate school to finding a tenure-track position.
As we move forward in the beginning stages of this group, I welcome all comments and suggestions. Please feel free to contribute to this blog--commiserate, criticize, or complement--and be sure to send in your useful tips, links, and texts. Remember, if you feel discouraged, seek out your peers. Knock on one another's doors. We should not have to do this alone.