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White Notebooks


Building, adapting, and sustaining a writing practice is a challenge for people working in academia, regardless of their career stage or number of publications completed.  Writing is undoubtedly central to advancing our scholarship and academic careers; yet, it can easily become the "task" left unfinished or set aside for other (seemingly more important) matters. Our feelings and attitudes toward writing, moreover, are never fixed. They fluctuate over time and even over the duration of a single writing project.


We have developed a writing program based upon our work with over six fellowship cohorts, extensive research and reading, and firsthand experiences as writers and researchers. We do not want to teach you how to work within the system of academia and thrive it despite its problems. Instead, we seek to challenge the myths and toxic elements of academia. We do this by: advocating for more productive workflows that do not require you to work all the time; critiquing how the culture of academia perpetuates harmful narratives that we may internalize; reframing dissertation writing as a creative and communal practice rather than a solitary intellectual endeavor or competition; and,  prioritizing your health and humanity over everything else.

There are three parts of our writing program:

1) Understanding Your Writing Process, 2) Planning, 3) Community

Understanding Your Writing Process

  • Participating in workshops that will help you reach a deeper understanding of your own writing process and challenges

  • Developing a writing practice with sustainable habits that prioritize a healthy and full life

  • Monthly check-ins your cohort members and Program Coordinator with focus points for each meeting about the writing process


  • Timeline to Dissertation Completion

  • Task-Based Dissertation Outline

  • Time-Blocked Calendar and Unschedule

  • Cohort check-ins

  • Writing partners

  • Peer-reviews 

  • Support provided by mentors, IUPLR/UIC Mellon staff, IUPLR Center Directors

Our Sources: The MFP Writing Program is informed by ideas and research from the NCFDD excellent dissertation curriculum, Kel Weinhold's free webinars for UNSTUCK (The Professor Is In), Nel Fiore's The Now Habit, Cal Newport's book and podcast Deep Work, Michelle Boyd's writing blog Inkwell Writing Retreats, Barbara Semecka's The Writing Workshop, Wendy Belcher's Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, Clive Thompson's Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t, and Cathy Mayzak's podcast Academic Writing Amplified and new book Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing.

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