Monday, October 19, 2009


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.


  1. You'll finish that Ph.D soon enough. You're made for the task.

  2. Where did you get that sweet little man on the Graduate Support Group "about us" page. He his simply precious!

  3. Now that other authors have joined, I made that sweet little man my profile photo. He is a disgruntled writer.

  4. My profile photo is so predictable for anyone who knows me that I fear I have become a cliché as well.

    Liz, the blog looks great!

  5. PS: I removed my initial post because I was experimenting with my profile name. Don't ask :)

  6. Thanks for the Writing Your Dissertation download -- that is very helpful! I have to admit I've been so worried about the comps that the dissertation seems situated in the far distant future.

    However, since it's on my mind and since we can post freely here, has anyone gotten the "you are so self-absorbed" speech from a loved one? And this from my brother who is in the midst of his own ABD despair... This was from his recent e-mail: "Give some
    thought to the vortex of grad school self-absorption, and to the challenge presented by trying to prioritize your grad work and your other priorities (family, but also spouse, friends, whatever)."

    My initial thought was, this is the pot calling the kettle black, and my second was "your vortex of self-absorption is bigger than my vortex of self-absorption" but, you know... :) Anyway, I wondered if anyone else has experienced this push back from loved ones...

  7. Thanks for this. It helps knowing there are others out there in this twilight zone.

  8. Speaking of disgruntled writers, I chose one of the most oft-quoted as my icon.