The rules are the following:
1. Show up.
2. Be quiet.
3. Write for a half hour.
Here are some FAQs:
Q: Why have a Shut Up and Write group?
A: Several reasons. First, writing is some of the most important work we do as philosophers, but it’s mostly invisible. Generally, faculty write alone in their offices, or off campus. Graduate students don’t see their faculty mentors engaging in writing; they only see the output. This group will show philosophers doing an essential part of their jobs that is normally done behind closed doors, with the aim of taking away its mystery.
Second, writing is often done in isolation, which can make it more difficult and occasionally depressing. Writing together provides a sense of community while we get our work done.
Q: Why is the session only a half hour long?
A: Writing for long periods takes practice if one is not used to it. And even if one is used to it, it can be hard to fit in large chunks of writing time once the semester starts. It can also be daunting to commit to writing for several hours when one has lost writing momentum. But most of us do have a free half-hour in our days. It’s easy to commit to writing for a short period of time. And the hope is that writing for a half hour will build further momentum.
Q: I’m a graduate student. Should I attend?
A: Definitely! Graduate school can be one of the most difficult periods of all for writing. This group is meant to help.
Q: I’m a graduate student. Will my dissertation advisor be there glaring at me because I am not typing fast enough? Will s/he be able to see into the very essence of my procrastinating graduate student soul or psychically connect to my slow-moving dissertation chapter from across the room in order to formulate objections and counterexamples?
A: Even if your advisor is there, s/he will be writing too, likely frantically. Glares are discouraged, and psychic connections with slow-moving dissertation chapters are strictly prohibited.
Q: I’m a faculty member. Should I attend?
A: Yes! We all know how hard it is to fit in writing during the semester. This should help provide an excuse to do so. E.g. “Excuse me, Student Who Has Spent 45 Minutes In Office Hours Complaining About Her Grade. I have an appointment with my research in five minutes and must prepare.”
Q: Will anyone be monitoring me to make sure I’m actually writing during the session?
A: No. Nothing will stop you from showing up to Shut Up and Write and perusing the latest Zappos.com sales or the dregs of the philosophy blogosphere. But hopefully the productivity-rich environment will be conducive to actual writing.
Q: I can only write in very specific environments, like when the temperature is absolute zero, the noise level is that of an abandoned grassy plain, I’m in my favorite comfortable chair made of baby goose down, and there are no other humans within a three mile radius. Is this a good reason not to attend?
A: No! I am sympathetic to precious writing preferences. I write best in coffee shops with standoffish baristas, music that approximates construction site noise, and unreliable WiFi. But it’s good to get used to writing in a variety of environments. And though the circumstances might be less than ideal, it’s only a half hour.
Q: Will you send out snarky email announcements like this for every Shut Up and Write session?
A: No. I will, however, announce it ahead of time. The aim is to hold sessions on Fridays before colloquia, when people are already coming in to campus, and so that the timing is predictable.
Q: I teach at the time Shut Up and Write is happening.
A: Okay, that’s a pretty good excuse not to attend. Hopefully in the future, there will sessions in different time blocks.
Q: I'm out of excuses not to attend.
A: Awesome. See you there.