Since starting our ECR initiatives, we have been planning to run a writing retreat – a designated time and space with all distractions removed for writing. In September 2016 we realised this, funding 16 participants to take part in a three-day retreat run by Rowena Murray at the Black Bull Hotel in Gartmore.
The focus of the retreat was to develop healthy and productive practices that combine structured writing to targets with regular breaks for conversation, exercise and good food. Our ambition is to run the writing retreat on an annual basis.
Here is some feedback from some of those we funded to attend:
… the greatest way in which the retreat facilitated my writing productivity was the way in which it legitimately enabled me to see myself as ‘a writer’ which I had never done before. I came away from the retreat with new found confidence in writing. (Carli Ria Rowell, PhD Researcher)
It showed me how much can be achieved in 5.5 hours when these distractions are removed, and offered a great example of how to balance work with recreational activities and looking after yourself, proving you do not need to do a 12 hour day to write productively (in fact, quite the opposite)! The communal aspect was also useful as it created a positive and welcoming group writing environment (writing can usually be such an isolating experience!) (Emily Nicholls, Lecturer)
The best part of the retreat for me was the idea of a ‘community of practice’. Isolation has been the single greatest problem for me as a doctoral student. Working alongside others helped me enormously and I was able to focus perfectly on my own writing. The promise of the company of people who understand academic work (disciplinary differences notwithstanding) and concerns and problems in the field worked as an incentive. (Reva Yunus, PhD Researcher)
Information on how to apply for the 2017 writing retreat is available here