You're supposed to finish a chapter, but you can't concentrate? Your mind wanders off and you find yourself on facebook instead of writing a paragraph? Maybe writing in a group is for you!

There are currently several academic writing groups running at Cambridge University and the Colleges. Anyone can join and come to as many sessions as they want. The writing groups provide support for graduate students and staff who want to concentrate better and be more productive.


Check facebook for last minute updates, additional ad-hoc and marathon sessions, and interesting links on productive writing.

Set-up: What is a writing group?

A while ago the author Rowena Murray gave a talk at Cambridge on how to write a thesis, and on how to support each other via writing groups. Several graduate students were inspired and founded such groups at their Department or College. These groups have very similar set-ups:

  1. 5 minutes discussion among the group of what we will write in this session.
  2. 8 minutes "free-writing": We write down what we have done in our project so far, and what we will do next. It helps to think of your audience or the goal of the respective paragraph or chapter. For free-writing it is crucial that you keep writing full sentences without stopping or correcting yourself. This is a tool to get you in the mood for writing. If you feel bored, just write "I'm bored." You will get closer and closer to your topic.
  3. 45min to 1 hour professional writing: Everyone writes for their thesis, paper or project. Some do statistics, others write notes on an article they are reading. This is quiet time and the alarm clock is running.
  4. De-brief: After the session there is usually time to write down: What have I done? What will I do next? Next time you want to write on your project you can pick up from that.
  5. Some writing groups at Cambridge do a short break with cake and tea and have a second session after that where all steps will be repeated.

Be in touch

While most meetings are fairly regular during term time, the best way to hear about changes and additional sessions is by checking the above google calendar. You can also


Queens College Group: Different rooms: Erasmus Room in in staircase I. Closest entry from Queens Lane (back door for Queens College), once inside queens college, turn left after first grass lawn, then go inside into "I" staircase (next to old kitchen), 1 floor up you will see the room. Ask porters for directions. Other rooms often booked are: and DD47 or DD43. Check google calendar and facebook. Contact: Christine cnly2 ||

POLIS Group: Sidgwick Site, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT. The Uni4 and 4 buses drop off right outside the building. We have booked room 119 but sometimes we have to change rooms. If you find an empty room and you haven't heard of a change on google calendar or facebook, ask the POLIS administrators who have an overview over room bookings (admin is on first floor, next to room 138). We are usually in room 119, 138 or S2. Map. Contact: Kat kab67 || or Nicole.

Education Faculty Group: Donald McIntyre Building, Faculty of Education, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge. Map. Room 2 S 5. Rooms keep changing, check the calendar or facebook. Contact: Christine cnly2 ||

Trinity Hall: We meet in different rooms at the central site, e.g. P seminar room, or D15. Ask the porters or check the google calendar for updates (maps). Contact: Nicole.

Darwin Writing Society: Darwin College, Silver Street. Newnham Terrace First floor seminar room. Map. The Porter's Lodge at Darwin College can give you directions to the rooms.

Newnham College: Silver Street. Changing rooms, check facebook and calendar. Contact: Kat kab67 ||


Here we will collect descriptions of the writing method and other helpful ideas to help graduate students concentrate and be more productive.

The university's counselling service has a number of student groups and workshops on writing problems and motivation.

The Graduate Development Programme frequently runs seminars on sustaining peak performance, project management and academic writing.


If you have any questions about this webpage, please contact Nicole Janz.