This Virtual Writing Retreat offers a dedicated, collective ‘time away’ to support people’s ongoing writing of journal articles, book/thesis chapters, grant proposals, etc.
Its intended outcomes are to:
- support individuals in making progress with their work while also fostering connection and solidarity within the group;
- support writing in the moment while also building capacity for the longer term – through increased awareness of how movement and bodily awareness can be used as writer’s resources.
This retreat will be especially helpful for those who find themselves blocked or struggling with their writing, allowing them to find new openings and possibilities.
Why Writing Retreats Don’t Always Work
In academia, we mostly assume that writing ‘will happen’ if time is set aside for it and if the writer has a conducive space in which to work.
This is not wrong. But it lacks precision. As Joli Jensen says in Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics:
“Writing productivity research and advice can be summarized in a single sentence: In order to be productive we need frequent, low-stress contact with a writing project we enjoy.”
And she continues:
“Our problem is that academic life offers us the exact opposite: infrequent, high-stress contact with projects that come to feel like albatrosses.”
Going on a writing retreat, especially a short one, cannot do much to address infrequent writing, and the project people show up may or may not have come to feel like an albatross.
What about stress?
In the best of cases, being on retreat evokes a sense of ease, slowing down and spaciousness.
Yet expectations of immediate productivity (“NOW it has to happen”) or pre-emptive self-judgment (“If I can’t write something good here, what hope is there?”), can increase stress. And the presence of others may feel constraining rather than helpful.
The Features of This Retreat
This retreat is designed to offer participants a series of low-stress contact moments with their academic writing projects.
It is based in embodiment coaching frameworks that support nervous system regulation and the discovery of new generative possibilities.
Key principles are:
- Care: not working too hard, listening to your body, stepping away when it’s been enough
- Choice: multiple options for approaching your writing, regular moments to check with yourself what you want
We engage these principles by paying more-than-usual attention to writing as a physical act, working with movement and bodily awareness. (To get a sense of this, click here.)
The online format is also used to support care and choice. Participants can regulate the duration and level of their participation. They can go off screen and retreat in their own space while moving and writing, then connect with colleagues to share experiences.
These features allow the retreat to be a welcoming space for a diverse group of individuals. Personal needs and preferences and differing levels of energy are supported. At the same time, regular check-in moments with the group foster a sense of connection and solidarity, which in turn also supports the writing.
I have previously offered this retreat in a two-day and a half-day format. For more information and to discuss your group’s needs and wishes, please contact me.