Chronicle of Higher Education features professors’ essay

Professors Aubrey Westfall and Dana Polanichka (on right) and other faculty members work on projects in the communal writing room. (photo by Keith Nordstrom)

Dana Polanichka and Aubrey Westfall encourage quick communal writing sessions

Writing sometimes can feel like a lonely, laborious task rather than a joyous creative pursuit. However, that doesn’t have to be the case if it is done just right, according to an essay written by Professors Dana Polanichka and Aubrey Westfall recently published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In the Dec. 8, 2024 essay “Instead of a Writing Marathon, Why Not Try a Sprint?,” the two professors explain the benefits of writing in short bursts over time in a communal environment rather than alone in drawn-out sessions. They also describe the approach and the best time to do it.

Polanichka, professor of history, and Westfall, associate professor of political science, collaboratively lead Wheaton College’s Write Now, Right Now (WNRN), an initiative that Polanichka started in 2016. WNRN provides a community writing room that is a hub for a variety of faculty research and creative work.

While Polanichka and Westfall value devoting extended time to projects that require long-term commitment to complete and away-from-campus writing retreats, they also encourage the addition of a “sprint” approach “for a writing practice intended to motivate over a short period of time. It offers an energizing metaphor with an implied finish line.”

Sprints can also be more affordable than going away to write in isolation and a more sustainable way of achieving writing goals, they wrote: “Our tested group sprints have helped professors achieve their writing goals and build scholarly community—at a lower expense and with greater ease than off-site writing retreats.”