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New writing group empowers students

A new writing group was formed this semester after one student expressed the isolation and loneliness that comes with writing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pen on Paper, or POP, Writing Group was recently formed by Xiaorui Sun, a doctoral student studying innovative learning design and technology.

“The idea started from the fact that I had been working on my dissertation,” Sun said in an email. “It’s a solitary process, and the pandemic made this process worse. I felt even more isolated and less motivated. I wish I could write with other students and keep each other accountable.”

Sun reached out to Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center. Together, they formed the idea for POP. The group now meets every Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Women’s Center.

“Since the first Friday, I’ve seen a good turnout,” Sun said in an email. “Students came and left based on their own schedule. That shows that students do need a communal writing space and a group like this to gain peer support, be focused and have someone to keep accountable.”

Murray thinks the writing group has been successful for students and believes the group has space to evolve. She said the evolution will be on an as-needed basis according to the writers’ wants, but for now, people are just enjoying not being alone. 

“People are just really excited to not be doing this work in isolation and to have a space carved out where it's like this is the two hours this week or whatever time people can dedicate to it, where we are coming together in this location and writing,” Murray said. 

While the group has been largely successful with graduate students, anyone is welcome to join. Undergraduate student Grace Gold, a junior studying strategic communication, finds writing with friends easier.

“I am taking a magazine feature writing course right now,” Gold said in a message. “I have not heard of the Pen On Paper writing group. It sounds like a great opportunity and a fun experience. I would consider going to a session with this group.” 

The writing group is for students like Gold and anyone else who wants to write. The Women’s Center also has computers provided on a first come, first serve basis for students who need to borrow one to get their work done. 

“We encourage everyone to come who’s interested in sharing that space to write,” Murray said. “Anyone who would like to have this shared space and kind of accountability that ‘this is my time to write,’ whatever that writing is, we want people to feel free to come and participate.”

Anyone experiencing writer’s block, or just want to be held accountable to their scheduled writing times is welcomed into the group. The next meeting is Sept. 24 in Baker Center, 1 Park Place, room 403. For more information about the group, visit the university’s event calendar


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