After a few weeks apart from our ALDS graduate student community which is largely facilitated by the beloved ALDS Grad Student Lounge, many of us—through one-on-one conversations and group chats—reported similar difficulty maintaining our writing and working habits and motivation.

Academic writing is strenuous work on our best days, and the uncertainty, grief, and fear that COVID-19 has brought to the fore has made academic research and writing feel insurmountable for many of us. In addition to this, graduate student isolation—a well-known issue in academia connected to mental health—has been exacerbated by these circumstances.

To mitigate some of this, the Graduate Student Society for Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies (SALaDS) set up a virtual writing group using BigBlueButton on our CUlearn page. The first session, facilitated by SALaDS executive, Codie Fortin Lalonde, took place on Wednesday, April 15, from 1:00-4:30 pm with seven grad students from both the MA and PhD cohorts. The session began with a 15-minute catch-up and statement of our writing intentions for the day and ran in three 45/15-style units, in which we worked silently for 45 minutes followed by a 15 minute social break where we could ask questions, bounce ideas off one another, etc., and finished with recounting our goals and the progress we had made throughout the session, as well as next steps. Everyone who participated shared their relief at how productive they had been during the session and how nice it was to work with one another again.

After this initial session, a standing BigBlueButton session was set up in the SALaDS CUlearn page, for which any/all ALDS grad students can gather at any time for virtual writing groups. While we need not be too hard on ourselves through this pandemic, many of us still have goals and deadlines to keep up with and maintaining our work/writing habits through our grad student community can help us through this difficult time.

Please also feel free to join the ALDS grad student Facebook group.