Helsinki Writing Retreat

Before the retreat

  • Decide on a writing project

  • Review the retreat agenda: plan writing tasks for time slots in each day

  • Do reading and other preparation

  • Get notes, plans, outlines etc. together

  • Outline the structure of your paper/chapter

  • Download what you need, as wifi is not guaranteed in the room where we write

  • Make sure you know how to get to the venue!

  • Email about dietary/other requirements not already stated in your registration

What to bring

  • laptop

  • power cable

  • memory stick

  • note paper

  • pens

  • notes

  • outlines

  • ‘model’ journal article

  • data

  • exercise / walking gear

  • water bottle

At Rantapuisto only:

  • Bicycles are available for free use at the venue (pending availability).

  • Running tracks are abundant through the surrounding forest.

Printer, cartridges, paper are not provided. If you anticipate needing to print, you can bring your own printer or email If enough people notify of needing a printer, something could possibly be arranged.

At the retreat

See the retreat agenda for complete details. These are the exact timings we use. When people arrive late or leave early it can be disruptive on some level, so please plan your travel around these timings.


Arrive at the venue at around 17:20 for 17:30 start:

  • introductions

  • laptop set-up

  • 5-minute writing warm up

  • goal-setting discussion

  • 1 hour of writing

  • dinner

Thursday & Friday

Arrive at the venue at around 9:00 for at 9:15 start.

Thursday session ends at 17:30 — though consider staying on to have dinner with the group in the hotel restaurant.

Friday session ends at 16:30.

Make the best of the retreat

  • Focus exclusively on writing

  • Agree not to use internet in the writing room

  • Have specific goals, i.e. sections of paper or chapter, in terms of number of words

  • Define and discuss content and structure for writing sub-goals

  • Take stock of your achievements of these goals throughout the retreat

  • Discuss your writing-in-progress –> mutual peer support

  • Read Murray and Newton (2009) article on structured writing retreats

References: Evidence of outputs and outcomes

  • Murray R (2015) Writing in Social Spaces: A Social Processes Approach to Academic Writing. London: Routledge.
  • Murray, R (2012) It’s not a hobby: Reconceptualizing the place of writing in academic work, Higher Education, 66(1): 79-91.
  • MacLeod I, Steckley L & Murray R (2011) Time is not enough: Promoting strategic engagement with writing for publication, Studies in Higher Education, 37(5): 641-54.
  • Moore S, Murphy M & Murray R (2010) Increasing academic output and supporting equality of career opportunity in universities: Can writers’ retreats play a role?, Journal of Faculty Development, 24(3): 21-30.
  • Murray R (2011) Developing a community of research practice, British Educational Research Journal, 38(5): 783-800.
  • Murray R & Newton M (2009) Writing retreat as structured intervention: Margin or mainstream?, Higher Education Research and Development, 28(5): 527-39.
  • Murray R (2013) Writing for Academic Journals, 3rd edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.