MLA 2020--Writing Projects in Graduate School: Writing With and Through Anxiety

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Kayla Forrest/University of North Carolina at Greensboro
contact email: 

Writing Projects in Graduate School: Writing With and Through Anxiety

In her hallmark study on graduate student writing anxiety, Lynn Z. Bloom observed: “the more important the writing, the greater the apprehension” (105). Citing procrastination, perfectionism, a fear of feedback, and ineffective advising as key obstacles to graduate student writing confidence and success, she opened the door for other scholars--and graduate students--to consider more deeply why writing fails to get done in graduate school and how anxiety figures into the writing process. Almost 40 years after Bloom’s publication, this panel aims to consider how things have changed since she first studied graduate student writing anxiety, and how students might navigate the stressful, often isolating experience, of writing through their graduate careers.


We encourage broad interpretations of this topic, and specifically invite responses to the following questions:

  • What does writing anxiety look like in different phases of graduate study and what are strategies for overcoming it?

  • How and why do graduate students procrastinate--and how can they break free from the procrastination loop?

  • How might graduate programs and/or graduate advisors address writing anxiety with their students?

  • What institutionally-sponsored resources and support systems exist, or could be developed, to help mitigate writing anxiety?

  • How can graduate students effectively invite and work with reader feedback on their work?

  • What is the role of peer response or writing groups in combating writing anxiety, and how can graduate students form them?

  • What is the role of ‘perfectionism’ in writing, and how can graduate students effectively embrace it when needed and dismiss it when it inhibits their work?

  • How can graduate students more effectively manage their time if they have competing demands at home or financially?

  • How does a student’s sense of ownership of their dissertation improve, or inhibit, their ability to write?

  • How does a writer’s identity as a first generation graduate student impact the writing process and writing anxiety?

  • How might graduate students work through imposter syndrome as they write?


Works Cited

Bloom, Lynn Z. “Why Graduate Students Can’t Write: Implications of Research on Writing Anxiety for Graduate Education.” Journal of Advanced Composition, vol. 2, no. 1-2, 1981, pp. 103-117.


Deadline for Submissions: March 15

Please email submissions to Kristina Reardon ( and Kayla Forrest (