writing retreat

How to go about running a writing retreat

Retreat at St Margaret's House, Bethnal Green

Every now and then we are contacted by someone in another institution wanting to set up a writing retreat and wondering what they might need to consider. Recently Claudia Kratochwil from Vienna University of Economics and Business got in touch with a bunch of questions; she had heard about our retreats from Bernadette Kamleitner, formally in the School of Business and Management at QMUL. We decided to merge our responses to Claudia and create a new advice page on our website.  If we have spaces we are happy to include occasional external participants on our retreats and we're also sometimes able to facilitate retreats for institutions outside QMUL.  NB One of our key tips for a successful retreat is a good location and good food - see image! 





Writing retreat, doing and learning

Writing retreat November QMUL 1

I spent two days last week running a retreat for PhD students, with a twist – in addition to the usual retreat goal of supporting PhD students in their writing, we had a new agenda, to train them as facilitators to help us run Thinking Writing retreats. Over the last three years our writing retreat program has grown from two staff and postgraduate student retreats each year to a range of retreats for retreats for staff, graduate students, undergraduates and local school teachers and students, usually one or two days in length. In 2011-2012 we ran over 15 retreats, and demand is continuing to grow.

Writing in class

Last summer Gabrielle Jones an English teacher and Programme Manager for Literacy and Learning at Leyton Sixth Form College brought 15 or so of her colleagues to Queen Mary for a day’s Writing Retreat. Last week she invited us to the College to see how she and others had adapted some if the ideas and incorporated them into their teaching. Teresa and I sat in on two A2 classes where students were revising for their exams in a couple of weeks and also talked with teachers over a sandwich lunch. In what was a really fascinating morning we picked up a number of shifts in the way writing was being used by teachers and students.  Before, writing was set as something to do after class; now it was much more regularly part of class activity; students were becoming used to finding a focus and writing for short bursts of time, usually of their own choosing: 10, minutes, or 20 or 30; they’d share their goals with a partner before writing, and afterwards discuss how they’d got on.

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