#PROWSS2021 – Cracking the Code

12-16 July was the Postgraduate Researcher Online Writing Summer School 2021 (or #PROWSS2021) and Bridget Blankley, a PGR from the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, reflects on her experience of attending.

PGR Writing Summer School logo

Why is it that life as a PGR that means learning to write all over again? Just as you think you have got the hang of writing essays suddenly, there are a whole new set of things that you have to write; abstracts, literature reviews, conference papers and even, whisper it softly, grant proposals. What’s worse, each one seems to have its own set of, often secret, rules that you have to learn. Well, at least that’s how I felt before I attended #PROWSS2021 this year. It was four days of ideas and advice followed by a full day of Shut up and Work – a great way to put into practice some of the ideas that you picked up earlier in the week.

I cannot claim that I attended every session – that’s another great thing about #PROWSS2021, plenty of options to drop in and out to suit your interests and your other commitments. So, I missed Wednesday’s session on The struggles and anxieties of writing a literature review due to a, rather pressing engagement, with my supervisor – no I won’t go into details, but, let’s say it might just have been linked to my lack of progress during the last lockdown. However, I did get to attend the morning session about Some things I learnt about grant writing along the way – full of useful tips and advice and sufficiently detailed to convince me that this is not the stage of my career when I should be worried about applying for grants.

The sessions that I found most useful were those that could be loosely grouped under the heading self-marketing; Anticipating Your Audience, Writing for a Lay Audience, Writing for Professional Recognition, and Writing to Raise Your Social Media Profile. Even thinking about it sends cold shivers down my spine; but thanks to the very patient and very knowledgeable speakers I now have a list of hints to help me step out of my comfort zone and agree to write this blog post. I also have copies of the slides and recordings of the sessions – via Canvas – almost as if the speakers are waiting to remind me of everything they said. I keep telling myself that Covid has affected my memory, but to be honest, with so many great sessions and so much valuable information that will be absolutely essential during my academic career, it’s somehow reassuring to know that there is a cupboard full of writing advice safely stored on Canvas. Will I attend again, definitely – unless I follow all the advice and finish my degree before 2022.

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