‘I have reconnected with myself as a writer’
‘Your writing retreats are a spa for the brain’
What are they?
Typically a writing retreat is an occasion when a group of people get together to make progress on their research projects, detaching themselves from the usual pressures and responsibilities of their job or study. They ‘retreat’ in order to focus on writing or, more unusually, reading.
Thinking Writing’s interest in retreats began when two of our members attended a residential writing retreat in the Scottish Highlands run by Rowena Murray (see Murray and Newton, 2009, and Murray, 2008, for more details) and decided to adapt the structures and ideas of the retreat to an urban university context. Since 2010 we have run more than 25 retreats for academic staff, postgraduate and undergraduate students, and local school teachers and students, and have a regular program of both general and department specific retreats running throughout each year.
In line with our focus both on professional development for staff and related student support, the aims of our writing retreats are multiple:
- to support participants to make progress on writing projects, with a view to eventually completing the text(s) in question
- to enable participants to better understand their writing processes and habits
- to offer strategies such as short writing activities, focusing tasks, peer feedback that we hope participants will embed in their own writing practice, and will incorporate into their teaching and learning
- to encourage participants to establish and run writing retreats within their own departments or schools
Premised on the same idea as our writing retreats, reading retreats offer participants a chance to take some quality time to read, and to explore ways to make what they read and how they work with that more useful to them as writers. The retreats are structured around texts of the participant's choosing and include a number of short writing and discussion activities, but no teaching.
We offer whole day reading retreats to postgraduate students across QMUL, and shorter reading retreats organised in conjunction with a number of departments (currently English and Drama, and Politics and International Relations), aimed specifically at first and second year students on courses with demanding reading requirements.
If you would like to attend a retreat or arrange one for your department, please get in touch. For details of and booking for forthcoming retreats please go to our events page. Browse our 'Encounters' blog pages for various reflections on retreats