In 2015-16, Academic Development held 12 writing retreats; two of these overnight at the KP Club in Pocklington, York and 10 mini-retreats at York St John. Both staff and postgraduate research students attended to work on a variety of writing pieces; from thesis chapters to mindmaps, from conference papers to book proposals.
Overnight Retreats @ KP Club, Pocklington
19 people attended these in April and July for two days’ worth of writing sessions, discussions, and research. The venue is very accommodating; the food is great and the atmosphere is conducive to getting lost in your work. Those who attended commented on the excellent opportunity to ‘tackle a big piece of work’ or focus on a particularly difficult area (that might have been put off over and over again). We have also agreed that it really helps ‘when it’s a focused environment like that, surrounded by other people doing the same thing’. During both retreats, we shared our research experiences, discussed our work and its triumphs or challenges, and enjoyed an opportunity to dig deep into a piece of research without worrying about time or other commitments.
Mini-retreats are shorter but by no means less productive – several people have commented on using them successfully to prepare a piece for publication or to concentrate on an aspect of research which would otherwise have been put off because of other claims on the researcher’s time. These retreats are held once a month on a Friday morning (9:30 – 2:00), and Academic Development will shortly be publishing a full list of these for semester one in Autumn.
Here is what some of our participants have said about the recent writing retreats:
‘The environment, where everyone else is coping with writing, boosts my concentration. Moreover, alternating times of writing and break with group discussion are of great help and value.’ (PGR student)
‘I feel a sense of accomplishment having spent a full day working on the piece.’ (Member of staff)
‘It’s a motivating space – if the writing feels hard, there is no temptation to put it aside. I also appreciate having a supportive group of people who I feel can see that I am making progress, even if that progress is very slow.’ (Member of staff)
‘The whole experience and being able to make significant leaps in my thinking has re-energised me, and I have a clear plan as to how to write part of my thesis and a conference paper.’ (PGR student)
Look out for our Writing Retreats in 2016-17. Book your place early on any of these as places are limited.