WriteCast Episode 75: Collaborative Writing
© Walden University Writing Center 2020
CLAIRE: Today on WriteCast, Kacy and I talk with two Writing Center colleagues about an article we’ve collaborated on.
CLAIRE: Welcome to Write Cast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers, a monthly podcast by the Walden University Writing Center. I’m Claire Helakoski,
KACY: and I’m Kacy Walz.
KACY: In the 8th episode of WriteCast, two former Writing Instructors provided ten tips for productive group work. Over the past two years, Claire and I have been collaborating with Christina Lundberg and Miranda Mattingly on an article about using Emotional Intelligence (EI) in our remote writing center work. Today we’ll discuss the experience and add some more tips for working collaboratively on a research article—something we know many Walden students aspire to do!
CLAIRE: We’re very grateful to Miranda and Christina for joining us on the podcast today to discuss the experience!
KACY: We are! Thank you so much for joining us! Returning listeners might recognize Miranda’s voice from episodes 59—How to Set and Stick to a Goal, and 61—Restorative Writing. And Christina, we’re so happy to have you as a first-time guest!
CHRISTINA: Thank you! This is so fun, thank you for having me!
CLAIRE: Of course! Would you mind giving a quick introduction for our listeners?
CHRISTINA: Sure!My name is Christina Lundberg, and I have been a Writing Instructor and Coordinator for the Walden Writing Center for almost six years now. I’m originally from Minnesota. I now live in Illinois, and I reside here with my husband and my son.
KACY: It’s awesome to have you with us today, Christina! And Miranda, could you reintroduce yourself as well?
MIRANDA: Of course! First, let me say thanks for having me back! I always enjoy having the opportunity to participate in these podcasts. But, again, I’m Miranda Mattingly. I’ve been here at Walden coming up on four years at the end of this year. I formerly was a Writing Instructor and I worked primarily with Paper Reviews and Course Visits and Webinars and had a delight offering those services, but now I’m actually supporting our team as one of our three managers. So I get to work with these lovely ladies here on this call!
CLAIRE: Thanks Miranda! So, a little bit of background. The four of us volunteered to develop some EI trainings for the Writing Instructor team and when several members of our staff came across a call for papers that seemed tailored for the work we’d been doing, it seemed natural to build on that work by publishing an article.
KACY: It really did seem like it was meant to be!
MIRANDA: Emotional Intelligence is a topic all four of us are so passionate about. After our year of training, I felt like I was brimming with ideas I wanted to share that are beyond the Writing Center, and it seemed like you all did as well.
CHRISTINA: I definitely did. The research, presentations, and activities we did last year really changed me. They allowed me to experience dynamic growth and I felt I was able to tap into my super powers! This was a huge relief because this is really who I am and how I’m wired.
CLAIRE: I know, I think it was really meaningful for all of us. I also found it all so energizing! I’m a very social person. I knew it would be a lot of work—this was my first group publication of any kind—and I really embraced the project.
KACY: You know, I hate to be the odd one out, but I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the whole group project thing. I hadn’t had the best experiences working in groups on school projects (that might be because I’m a little bit of a control freak, I think) but that was the only kind of group writing experience I’d really had. So I was kind of hesitant, but I signed on to help with both the trainings and the article because with all three of you, I’d only had wonderful experiences and, like Miranda said, EI is something I’m really interested in.
CLAIRE: I definitely think it helped that I’d known all of you for more than a year, because it builds that trust and just kind of general camaraderie. But I was really excited to work on this as a group and not to have to do so much work all alone!
MIRANDA: I couldn’t agree more, Claire. We had worked together so closely on the original training series, so I had so many great opportunities to witness your talents and strengths! I was excited for this new chance to work together.
CLAIRE, CHRISTINA, and KACY: Aww [laughing]
MIRANDA: Honestly, I couldn’t imagine writing an article or chapter without all of you. Particularly having all of our voices represented, to me, when I think about this experience, the diversity of perspective and expertise has enriched the substance and depth of our piece so much.
KACY: I totally agree. And I think that, even for those groups who might not be as fortunate as we have been—it’s been way more fun than I could have expected to collaborate on this with all of you—the concept of what’s gained through multiple views and perceptions is something I think all group projects benefit from.
CHRISTINA: Yeah, I completely agree. I was a bit thirsty for group work! I’m a sensitive person, but I’m not an introvert. I get a lot of energy interactions with people and so I was eager to participate in a project with interaction with kind colleagues like you that are smart and really just in it together.
MIRANDA: Definitely seems fitting for an EI project!
CLAIRE: Especially since our article’s topic is kind of focused on working effectively in an online setting!
CHRISTINA: And this was my first time writing for an academic publication.
CLAIRE: Me too!
KACY: I had a lot of experience writing in this style, but I’d never actually experienced the publication process. Thankfully, Miranda shared her experience with the process with all of us! So, Miranda, do you have any tips you could provide our listeners about academic publications?
MIRANDA: Sure! I’ll do my best! I’d encourage listeners to focus on what’s within their control when it comes to writing for academic publications. I think that’s huge. I think it’s important to do your due diligence to the best of your abilities. I always recommend writers look up the publication’s style guide, explore previously printed pieces within that publication, find examples of arguments that are structured in a similar way as your own—that’s always helpful, and use all that information to ultimately try to make your piece reflect what a publication in that venue might look like.
CLAIRE: Another thing to consider, in addition to what Miranda just listed, is citation style. We had to use MLA citation style rather than APA (which we’re all used to)! And MLA had some major updates since the last time I’d used it in graduate school, so I had to check back and forth with my reference examples a lot. It was a bit painful. But once we got into it, I started remembering patterns and was able to revise references and citations pretty effectively. Citations are an easy part of revision, though, and I think revising the content has been the toughest part of the article for a lot of us—and it’s kind of surprising since it’s really out of our control in many ways.
CHRISTINA: I found the revision process made sense because I write a lot of creative pieces, and the revision process for those is similar. I try not to take comments personally and instead use them as insights I can learn from. It’s kind of like continuing to refresh, re-see the piece, and shape it, kind of mold it like a sculptor. I find it fascinating to see how other people interpret writing. Comments can be grounded in the purpose of the publication and typical writing conventions like clarity, and sometimes they are subjective and particular to the reviewer. So, it’s good to just keep that in mind. I recommend writers harness patience in sorting through comments and considering them a little bit at a time. Just take it one step at a time.
MIRANDA: That’s such a great point, Christina. Revisions are always so hard—whether it is a discussion post, a course paper, or something you’re working to publish. With this piece in particular we had to work extra hard to come to a consensus on how to frame ideas, and then clearly articulate that argument on top of it and provide ample research and assessment. So, it was a challenging process.
CLAIRE: There were times I felt like someone else wanted to focus on a facet of our training or argument that wasn’t as important to me personally, but I think it was really helpful to discuss our different opinions and perspectives because it helped us narrow down what we as a collective really did want to say, and what we wanted to argue.
KACY: With four talented writers, with a lot of investment in the topic, we definitely had a lot to say! And I found it more important than ever to get really comfortable with the “killing my darlings” idea.
CLAIRE: Sometimes it felt like, based on reviewer feedback, we were being asked to cut the parts we worked so hard to add, and that can be disappointing. But I trust that ultimately each addition and subtraction we’ve made is making our work stronger and, more appealing to the readers of the specific publication we’re writing for—which is the reviewer’s job to consider.
CHRISTINA: It’s a whole system that you really learn while going through the process of making revisions and adapting to various publisher and editor direction and specifications. Staying patient and approaching the experience with curiosity to learn has served me really well.
MIRANDA: Agreed. I think it can be hard to make changes or let a section go because you remember, it’s that memory part, right? How much work it took to get the piece in the shape. That can be true of any type of writing—individually or in a group project like ours.
KACY: Working in a group, it’s natural—actually, I think it’s kind of necessary and even helpful—to have disagreements. I really appreciated how open everyone was to both providing and receiving feedback. I know my writing process has greatly benefited from this whole experience.
MIRANDA: I think that’s so true, Kacy. I definitely got a helpful reminder about the different stages writing has to go through. In the Writing Center we talk a lot about the writing process, and looking back at earlier drafts allows you to see just how much progress you made and, hopefully, when you’re thinking about those revisions and things you cut, why it was important to keep going and pushing toward that final, polished draft!
CLAIRE: I also discovered just how difficult it can be to work around everyone’s schedule! Which is a consideration I really hadn’t thought about with group work. It can be easy to overlook the more technical elements, but I think our experience benefited from our individual efforts to really value each other’s time and energy. And even though juggling four people’s schedules is a lot of work—on top of the mental effort required to produce strong writing, it’s a worthwhile investment.
CHRISTINA: Yeah, that’s so true. The revision process is such a journey. And I definitely appreciated everyone’s willingness to show up for one another. I love the work I do at Walden’s Writing Center, but because of the remote nature of our work, I sometimes feel disconnected in regards to social learning and connection with my peers like you all. It can lead to feeling a bit alienated. When I first discussed EI work with another Writing Instructor, a light bulb went off in my head. I was sure it could serve as a bridge to connect and learn with my Writing Center colleagues.
CLAIRE: That’s so lovely! I feel like we could keep talking about this forever! Listeners, you can all probably understand why we enjoyed working together on this project and why Kacy and I thought sharing the experience might be helpful for others looking to collaborate successfully!
KACY: I know, this has been so much fun. I hope both Christina and Miranda will be willing to collaborate with us on another WriteCast episode in the future!
MIRANDA: You know I enjoy joining you! So, anytime! Thank you so much for having me back!
CHRISTINA: Me too! I would be so happy to have another opportunity to work with all of you. Thank you!
KACY: Well thank you both again so much for joining us, and thank you all for joining us as well! Until next time…
CLAIRE: Keep writing…
KACY: Keep inspiring!
KACY: WriteCast is a monthly podcast produced by the Walden University Writing Center. Visit our online Writing Center at academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter. Find more WriteCast episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, or your favorite podcast app. We would love to hear from you! Connect with us on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter, and at [email protected]. Thanks for listening!