What is 'Shut up and Write!' at La Trobe University? (Tseen Khoo)

Shut up and write in progress (Photo by Tseen Khoo)
‘Shut up and Write!’ (SUAW) is a series of weekly facilitated writing sessions designed to help researchers get their writing done.

They are open to all researchers, hosted by the RED team and other researchers across the La Trobe network, and use the Pomodoro technique of focused writing interleaved with short breaks.

Many scholars find that SUAW sessions have become essential parts of their research practice – here are 5 great reasons to try SUAW out for yourself.

Regular La Trobe sessions take place at many campuses, including Melbourne, Franklin Street, Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, and online.

How does it work?

  • Each week, people arrive and set themselves up with their gear. 
  • At the session start time, the host begins the first pomodoro (25 minutes). You can shut up and write, or edit, read or analyse. It's up to you - the session gives you focused time with whatever stage of your research needs attention.
  • After 25 minutes, there's a break and everyone can chat, get coffee or tea, or go for a quick walk.
  • Then we write again for another 25 minutes.
  • Rinse and repeat until the end of the session.
SUAW can vary slightly in format from campus to campus but the basic components are the same -  especially needing the coffee.

How does virtual SUAW work?  

If you find that you are not always able to get to a face-to-face #SUAW session, the RED team runs a virtual one on Mondays from 2.00 - 4.00pm.

Virtual #LTUsuaw takes place through Twitter. The Monday sessions have four pomodoros (25-minute blocks), each pomodoro separated by a 5-minute break.

Your host - @LTUresearchers - tells you when to start, when to rest, when to start again and when to stop. It would be most helpful for you to have your own timer counting down the 25 mins (on phone or other device).

You can engage with others by responding to @LTUresearchers with information about what you’re working on and the progress you’ve made during the session. Be sure to use the hashtag #LTUsuaw so others can see you, cheer you on, commiserate and offer advice.

By engaging with your hosts and the other participants, you have an opportunity to connect with a ready network of researchers, and to be part of a thriving community of practice.

Access the #LTUsuaw hashtag stream so you aren’t distracted by your regular feed. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still follow the virtual #LTUsuaw session, but you won’t be able to engage or chat with the host or other participants. So, sign up to Twitter, and get the most out of it!

The first pomodoro starts at 2.00pm, so have your coffee or tea, files, notes and other necessary items nearby and be ready to write!

The weekly session schedule is: 

2.00 - 2.25pm – Pomodoro 1
2.25 - 2.30 – 5 minute BREAK
2.30 - 2.55 – Pomodoro 2
2.55 - 3.00 -  5 minute BREAK
3.00 - 3.25 – Pomodoro 3
3.25 - 3.30 -  5 minute BREAK
3.30 - 3.55 – Pomodoro 4
3.55 - 4.00 – Session close

We are grateful to @SUWTues for their leadership on the virtual #SUAW front.

What have La Trobe researchers said about SUAW?  

  • Emma Hughes (PhD researcher, Humanities and Social Sciences): "Participating in “Shut up and Write” spurred me to search for similar writing opportunities, and this led me to discover @FriNightWrites and #writeclub on Twitter." (Emma's full post is What shutting up and writing can do for you)
  • Jason Murphy (PhD researcher, La Trobe Business School): "#SUAW provides an opportunity to meet other researchers and share ideas about improving writing and coping with the other stresses of balancing a PhD with work and family commitments." (Jason's full post is Writing your way out of a corner)
  • Amie O'Shea (PhD researcher, ARCSHS): "#suaw gave me a community of writers. I met people writing novels, screenplays, assignments, theses, grant applications, ethics applications, and all sorts of other things. The shared connection was that we were all there, committed to writing our words." (See more from Amie in Shut up and write: So hot right now - Part 2)

Dr Tseen Khoo is a lecturer in research education and development with the RED team at La Trobe University. Melbourne. She has held research-only fellowships at the University of Queensland and Monash University, and was a research grant developer at RMIT University.

Tseen created and manages the Research Whisperer with Jonathan O'Donnell. 

She convenes the Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN), and publishes on critical race studies, diasporic Asian cultures, and racialised academic identities. 

She's on Twitter at @tseenster.


Unknown said…
Thank you very much for this information. I didn't know that you could also turn up and read or edit work, I thought it was only for those who had something to write!

I will definitely try to make the next one now :)
Tseen Khoo said…
Hi, Loretta! Thanks for your comment. Yes, #shutupandwrite is definitely for writing, and you can also do whatever it is that allows you to make progress on your current project. So, it's good to think of it as a regular appointment with your research, whether the task at hand is reading, editing, lit. reviewing or writing!