Sarah Sidlow, For The Miami Student

Picture yourself locked in a silent room with nothing in front of you but a pile of unfinished work.

That’s what a group of graduate students opted to do over fall break.

The Howe Center for Writing Excellence hosted a writing boot camp for graduate students and assistant professors while others were on fall break.

Sessions have occurred since January and have received enormous praise from participants, who are now hooked and looking for more.

Political Science Assistant Professor Monica Schneider developed the idea after hearing of similar programs at other universities.

Schneider teamed up with Maurica Allen, administrative assistant of the Howe Writing Center.

Still, some graduate students wanted the program to be extended.

“At the end of the two days, participants were asking for more,” Allen said. “Some wanted us to have them weekly.”

The program is only available to graduate students and untenured faculty, according to the writing center’s website.

According to Allen, the first boot camp was held in January 2010, and more than 25 graduate students and 20 assistant professors gathered for a high-intensity productivity session.

Allen said the writing center is planning to host a writing boot camp for fall, winter, spring and summer breaks.

Allen said the boot camp is held in the Shriver Center Multi-Purpose Room and the writing center provides outlets for laptops and beverages for all who attend.

Graduate student Angela Coppola attended writing boot camp for the third time. Cooper completed a thesis proposal and a proposal for a research project at previous boot camps.

“The environment motivates you,” Coppola said. “You see other people working and think to yourself, ‘If other people are getting work done, I can too.'”

Coppola also said the sense of community the boot camp provides is more motivating than that of King library.

“You get the sense that everyone is there to get work done,” she said.

Kate Francis, manager of Howe’s Student Writing Center, has run boot camp sessions in the past. She also noticed the external motivation boot camp gives to participants.

“Everyone starts out working with good intentions, but when you’re working at home there are always other things that you end up doing,” Francis said.

She said participants are very diligent, barely stopping to eat meals.

“People come early,” she said. “They walk in and barely say hi to us. We have to tell them to stop and get lunch.”

Participants said they wouldn’t mind boot camp cracking down even more. Some suggested shorter lunch and shorter breaks, while others suggested the program run until 5 p.m. One participant suggested a short yoga session during breaks, according to participant evaluations.

The writing center has not yet discussed a version of boot camp for undergraduates, according to Allen, but she said the organization is always open to new ideas.

“It’s weird, but it’s almost a fun day,” Allen said. “You almost walk away saying, ‘Wow, that was fun.’ It’s an odd feeling to describe.”

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