It All Starts Here

Too many students enter graduate school unprepared to write at the level expected of them, so they become stressed and lose confidence in their ability to write well. Though graduate school writing demands are daunting, writing is a skill that can be mastered. However, students first must embrace their identity as scholarly writers then work to improve their writing abilities. I’m Not a Writer…is a resource that provides foundational information, skills and techniques for students to develop an authentic research voice so that they can meet faculty expectations, navigate graduate school culture, earn their degree and publish in their field.
  • Writing Skills

    Strategies to organize ideas and research

  • Writing Mentorship

    Writing expectations of faculty

  • Writing Elements

    Elements of a well-developed and supported body paragraph

  • Unity of Ideas

    Coherence devices to unify writing

  • The Process

    The steps of the writing process

  • Multiple Revisions

    The difference between editing and proofreading

  • Voice Development

    Ways to develop an authoritative research voice


    Techniques to critically read, critically think and critically write

  • Practical References

    Advice from actual graduate students on research , writing and coursework

  • Benefits to Faculty and Graduate Programs:

1. Fills a curriculum writing gap for programs lacking a formal scholarly writing course or other mechanism to prepare students to meet faculty writing expectations
2. Teaches sophisticated writing concepts and pinpoints common writing problems that frustrate faculty who expect students to already know certain information
3. Provides foundational critical thinking, reading and writing skills for students to produce sound scholarship and finish their degrees
4. Meets the professional development needs of non-traditional, online, international, working and first generation in college students who need guidance in fulfilling the role of a scholar

This slim, economically priced, easy to read instructional resource can be added to any graduate level course and used throughout students’ educational journey; the writing guide can be ordered through University bookstores or from Amazon.

  • Benefits to Students:

1. Empowers students with practical skills, structure and resources so that they (re)gain confidence in their abilities to write well
2. Provides valuable insight from someone who not only understands the process, but who also faced many obstacles, overcame them, earned masters and doctoral degrees in English and committed herself to helping others finish
3. Helps to acclimate working students, online learners, first generation in college students, international students and professionals returning to school after years in the workforce to graduate school culture, pressures and expectations
4. Relays helpful information in a warm, caring tone so that students realize what they do not know about research, reading and writing

This slim, economically priced, easy to read writing guide can be ordered from Amazon.

  • Some On-Campus Workshops Offered

What it Means to Be a Grad Student: Understanding Faculty Expectations for Writing and Research

Workshop Description
Writing at the master’s and doctoral degree levels differs from undergraduate research writing. Unfortunately, many graduate students start their programs unaware of the expectations, standards and conventions of scholarly writing. This workshop provides information for understanding research and writing at the advanced degree level.

Don’t Write Too Soon: The Critical Skill of Organizing Ideas

Workshop Description
The lack of a systematic approach to writing not only hinders many graduate students from producing quality writing but also creates undue stress, anxiety and frustration. What a writer does to begin writing is one of the most important parts of the writing process. This workshop describes the important role of prewriting in creating quality writing.

More than the Research Paper: An Overview of Academic Writing Genres at the Advanced Graduate Level

Workshop Description
Master’s and doctoral level students can expect to write a range of academic documents. Genres of writing have distinct styles, purposes and approaches. This workshop introduces participants to the common types of writing done during graduate study.

Connect the Dots Academically: Understand What Constitutes Cohesive Writing

Workshop Description
Strong writing is unified, with each sentence, paragraph and sentence being clearly connected. However, many graduate students struggle to maintain cohesion from the beginning to the end of a document. This workshop provides a clear understanding of the continual process and goal of unifying various ideas and research in an academic document.

Upcoming Workshops

March 22, 2017 |
3:00pm - 4:00pm

The Struggle is Real! Key Elements to Establish an Authentic Research Agenda

March 29, 2017 | 6:00pm - 8:00pm

I'm Not a Writer Book Presentation and Signing

March 30, 2017 |
1:00pm - 2:30pm

What it Means to Be a Graduate Student: Understanding Faculty Expectations for Writing and Research”

March 30, 2017 |
3:00pm - 5:00pm

Workshop for Doctoral Dissertation and Cross Discipline Graduate Thesis Students

April 6, 2017 |
12:00pm - 1:15pm

April 3, 2017 | TBA

I'm Not a Writer Graduate Student Present

April 6, 2017 |
12:00pm - 1:15pm

Spice Up Your Academic Writing: How to Create Sentence Variety

Apri 6, 2017 |
3:00pm -4:00pm

Opinion or Informed Position? The Elements of a Sound Academic Argument

How has this book worked for students?

As a graduate student consumed with so many writing assignments, this book is a lifesaver! Not only did I receive great writing tips on how to improve my writing skills, there are useful strategies on how to become a successful scholar. Also, I love the size of the book! Although it's roughly over 100 pages, it is full of great examples of outlines and writing samples to follow and it's easy to read. I highly recommend this book to ALL graduate students.Lakesia Cousins, Nursing PhD Student and McKnight Doctoral Fellow, Florida Education Fund
I was referred to this book as an unorganized writer having been out of school for several years, but I quickly regained my writing strength and critical analysis skills from reading this book. It’s a short read which is good for someone with limited time due to family or work commitments, and it really helped me organize my thoughts in a very structured format. The other aspect of the book that I like is the insight on the expectation of PH.D programs. I was really nervous about the process, but the book give a great conceptual perspective of the expectation of Ph.D. programs and professors. I have referred this book to several of my friends for graduate and undergraduate writing, as the key principles of writing provided in the book apply on all levels of writing professional writing.Terri Lawson, Husband, Father, Full-time Employee, PhD Student, Leadership Studies, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
I AM a Writer was published at just the right time in my academic career. I am in the dissertation proposal phase of my PhD program and was working on the fifth draft of my proposal. I felt overwhelmed and lost as to how to improve my proposal. This book transformed my perspective and re-focused my efforts. Dr. Williams clearly articulates steps for every scholar to develop a writing process. This book should be assigned reading for every graduate student. I only wish I had read it sooner, but I am now recommending it to all my peers to save them some heartache.Heather Kirkland, PhD Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, American University
This book does a terrific job of situating a student’s development of writing skills within the context of all the other pressures of graduate-student life and explains why writing and research strategies that served an undergraduate adequately aren’t likely to be sufficient for graduate students. She writes in a professional style, backed with plenty of research to support her points, but remains down-to-earth, comfortable, supportive, and easy to read.
The title of the book is priceless. With just that tiny bit of verbal "editing"--three word changes--she flips the conventional graduate student fear (I'm not a writer; I'm just in graduate school) into an empowered statement of what the graduate student needs to succeed. The attitude shift underlies the whole focus of the book: "Oh, yes, you CAN write. Here's how."Pat Nickinson, Ph.D., Director, BizComm Center, Muma College of Business
I must admit the title got my attention as a person who has spoken those similar words a million times in fits of frustration as I faced another research paper deadline. Academic writing has always been a challenge for me but not any more after purchasing this how-to-book. In my effort to improve my writing skills, I purchased this book by Dr. Williams and immediately saw progress. I truly appreciate the simple language and practical techniques used to guide the reader to become a scholarly writer. This is a must have book for all graduate students.Tara Nkrumah, Instructional Leadership Coach, Hillsborough County School District and PhD student, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, University of South Florida
After reading Dr. V's book, I'm Not a Writer, I'm Just in Graduate School, one of the most valuable lessons I learned was self-confidence. Who would have thought that I could gain self-confidence from a writing book!? Well, the fact is that this book not only will teach you an easy, effective strategy to approach writing, but it will also make you realize the depth of connection between writing and psychology. If your mind is full of doubt and fear that you are not a good writer, then you are not going to be a good writer. Consequently, you will probably end up drowning in doubt and fear. This book made me realize I was not the only one going through crazy writing fears. Through this book, Dr. V guides you in breaking down these fears by breaking down the overwhelming big scary monster writing task and creating little steps to conquer the writing monster. Every single part of the writing process is broken down from the time before you even start to put the pen to paper to each sentence that makes up the actual paragraph to the concluding sentence - it's all guided! This made a huge difference for stepping into the terrifying world of writing, at least for me. I finally had a map I never received!Shirley Bejarano, Master’s in Public Health (University of South Florida), Master’s in Global Health (Universitat de Barcelona)
  • Vernetta K Williams PhD
  • (813) 951-4880