Writing retreats for university writers

Structured writing retreats can support academic writing of all kinds, from a thesis to a research proposal — a journal article to a book — a conference paper to a literature review.

University students and staff may struggle to find writing time while competing with other work and study responsibilities. Committing to a 2,5-day retreat allows writers to privilege their writing completely. For those couple of days, they can disengage from emails and other tasks. Meals and practicalities are taken care of. Retreat participants write in a group setting, encouraging and reinforcing writing as the primary goal. During break and discussion times, participants from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds can exchange and spark new ideas.

The structured writing retreat concept began in the UK, pioneered by Professor Rowena Murray specifically for universities and academic writers. Over the past 15 years, research into the structured retreat model has returned a clear result: structured retreats work for academic writers.

Now taking root in Finland, the Helsinki Writing Retreats have a broader writing audience with creative and professional authors included — but we do not forget our academic roots.

One-time participation at a retreat can have immediate impact and teach new strategies for long-term productivity. Repeat participation brings even stronger results — as one repeat retreater put it:

“Writing retreats saved my PhD.”

See below for research and references, as well as sample output from a previous retreat.

See the Reviews page for what participants have had to say.

Individual and group bookings for retreats are available to universities. Private retreats for universities can also be arranged.

Check the event calendar from the button below, or contact jess@writingretreat.fi for more information.


research & References

MacLeod, I, Steckley, L and Murray, R (2012) Time is not enough: Promoting strategic engagement with writing for publication, Studies in Higher Education, 37(6): 641-654

Murray, R and Newton, M (2009) Writing retreat as structured intervention: Margin or mainstream?, Higher Education Research and Development, 28(5): 527-39

Murray, R, Steckley, L and MacLeod, I (2012) Research leadership in writing for publication: A theoretical framework, British Educational Research Journal, 38(5): 765-781

Grant B (2006) Writing in the company of other women: Exceeding the boundaries, Studies in Higher Education, 31(4): 483-495

Moore S (2003) Writers’ retreats for academics: Exploring and increasing the motivation to write, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27(3): 333-342

Murray R (2015) Writing in Social Spaces: A Social Processes Approach to Academic Writing. London: Routledge

Murray, R (2011) How to Write a Thesis, 3rd edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill

Murray, R (2013) Writing for Academic Journals, 3rd edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill

Murray, R and Moore, S (2006) The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill

Murray, R (2014) Doctoral students create new spaces to write in C Aitchison and Guerin, C (Eds) Writing groups for doctoral education and beyond: Innovations in theory and practice. London: Routledge

Thow, MK and Murray, R (2001) Facilitating student writing during project supervision: a practical approach. Physiotherapy, 87(3), pp.134-139

academic Output

A previous 2,5-day retreat attended by 15 participants had the following output:

  1. Revised and completed research proposal for small grant (1000 words). Replied to copy editor’s queries on 4 chapters. Wrote paper for an in-house journal (1000 words). Drafted marketing questionnaire for publishers (500 words). Drafted journal article from conference paper (2000 new words)

  2. Completed final draft of journal article, including 8 graphs. Completed draft proposal and ethics form

  3. 2500 words of preparatory, theoretical work for EdD

  4. PhD literature review: 4100 new words

  5. Journal article: 800 words of new article, 2000 written, 1500 cut. All revisions completed and article submitted. 30-page transcription analysed for PhD

  6. Journal article: 2300 new words written, 2000 words edited

  7. Edited existing work for MSc literature review chapter and added 2500 words

  8. Journal article: 2000 new words, 4000 edited words. Wrote 400-word conference abstract

  9. Worked on 2 book chapters: 2500 + 3000 new words. Edited 3100 words. Notes on one topic created and formatted

  10. Wrote 9261 new words for PhD

  11. PhD: wrote 8000 new words and edited 14,000 words

  12. Wrote 4256 new words for PhD

  13. Completed draft literature review for PhD, emailed to supervisors (4580 new words)

  14. Conference paper (1000 words), book chapter (2000 words), edited previously written chapter of 9000 words

  15. Journal article: wrote 6071 new words + newspaper article (935 words)