About a month and a half ago I stumbled across Academic Ladder.  The site is run by Gina Hiatt, a PhD Clinical Psychologist who runs her own dissertation and academic writing coaching site.  I had been looking for resources to help me move forward on my own dissertation, and this one led me to a doozy.

In addition to individual and group coaching, Gina started the Academic Writing Club.  The idea behind the club is that it is more important to write CONSISTENTLY and REGULARLY than in big chunks.  The goals of the club are to help you develop that habit.  Each day you have the opportunity to record what you did as far as writing and as far as research/reading.  The goal is to record at least a little bit every day in order to see steady progress.

You are set up in a group of around a dozen people who have a similar goal; for example my group is all grad students working on their dissertations (although there are also groups for people working toward tenure).  Each group session lasts for 4 weeks, during which you work with the same people.  My group has writing meetings during which we all meet in the chat room and agree to work for a period then meet up there for a break.  We have a superorganizer who has this set up for 6 days a week at times that work for the entire group.  (This last part is important, since we have people spread from Arizona to Europe to Australia.)

The group also has a message board and, most importantly, the progress page.  That is the page where you log what you worked on each day.  It provides accountability, but since everyone in the group can see it the tendency is also to provide support and encouragement.

You can log just comments, what you did or skip a day.  You can comment on other people’s accomplishments for the day and report on both your own and the entire groups achievements.

In addition to the group, you have access to all of the resources they have assembled over the years and to a coaching call to kickstart each 4 week block.

There is a monthly cost; $70 if you do one 4 week session at a time, $230 if you do 4 in a row paid all at once, and $610 if you do 12 in a row.  You also commit to an autorenew schedule, although their support is very responsive so if you decide it isn’t working for you canceling should be straightforward.  However this is far less than an actual one-on-one or even group coach would cost, and to me more useful.  Daily accountability is an important part of making consistent progress, and this provides it with a lot of positive reinforcement.

In all, I believe it is well worth the cost.  I know support is responsive because I changed from the 1 session membership to the 4 session membership once I determined it would be useful and they made the process painless.  A new session starts around the last week of each month, with the next one starting August 23rd, so I encourage you to consider joining!

Gina from Academic Writing Club has generously offered a $10 discount for readers of this blog who are interested in trying the club.  Just put the code PROTOSCHOLAR in the “coupon” field  of the cart and the discount should show up immediately.

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