This post was first published on 17 August as “Get your Applications in for our November Writers’ Retreat: It’ll be a real treat”. Republishing as you may not have had a chance to read it with the stress of a sudden lockdown. At this stage we are hopeful that we will still be able to proceed as planned. Applications close on Friday 17 September.
Setting aside dedicated time for writing can be hugely beneficial in terms of productivity and can give your momentum a boost as well if you are involved in a big project like a thesis, for example. The benefit of communal writing has been widely discussed in the academic community (e.g. Kornhaber et al, 2016) and explains the popularity of approaches such as Shut up and Write, where a group gets together and writes for short periods followed by brief breaks for a quick chat (find out more about our online Shut up and Write group here).
One way to take dedicated writing time is to go on a writing retreat. I was tremendously fortunate during my own PhD journey in that I was able to attend two week-long writing retreats and a weekend ‘bootcamp’ (which was a little less scary than it sounds but not quite as fancy as a writing retreat: we spent the weekend in a classroom on campus and went home at night). I highly recommend getting along to one of these if you can.
The idea is that it’s kind of like a writing holiday, you’re (ideally) staying somewhere away from home, such as a retreat centre, away from many of the usual distractions, your meals are provided so you don’t have to worry about that, and you have writing experts on hand to run workshops and provide advice for any issues you may be facing in your writing. Sounds amazing right? It can also do wonders for your productivity, having a schedule and goals for the time you are away can help you stay focussed. For example, at the beginning of my ‘thesis bootcamp’, the Dean of the graduate research faculty was giving us a pep talk and at one point was talking about how the record at the previous bootcamp (Friday night to Sunday night) had been 20000 words. At that point he picked me out and said ‘you’re going to write 25 thousand’ – he was just picking out someone for effect. Not being one to turn down a challenge, I said ‘sure’. I didn’t quite manage the 25, sadly, though I got past 20 with time to spare. That was my writing retreat success story: I also had a writing retreat fail where my laptop fried my external hard-drive with all my work on it half way through the week (always, always back up your work).
Did you know that GRS runs writing retreats for research students? They run for three nights (3.5 days) and take place at the wonderful Vaughan Park retreat centre in Long Bay. Accommodation and cooked meals are provided free of charge, and writing advisors are onsite to run group sessions and provide one-to-one support. Our next retreat takes place 1-4 November and you can apply to attend by filling in this form. You’ll have the best chance of being accepted to the retreat if you:
- are in a writing-intensive phase of your thesis;
- clearly demonstrate in your application how the retreat will benefit your writing; and
- get an endorsement from your supervisor
So get going with those applications, and drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
Kornhaber, R.; Cross, M.; Betihavas, V. & Bridgman, H. (2016) The benefits and challenges of academic writing retreats: an integrative review, Higher Education Research & Development, 35(6), 1210-1227.