Experiences from NordMedia Network’s Online Writing Retreats

Carving out half a day in your calendar for dedicated time for writing can be a good tool for anyone struggling with motivation or procrastination. We share some of the experiences from NordMedia Networks writing retreats this fall.

This fall NordMedia Network have arranged three online writing retreats, where the goal has been to plan dedicated time for writing. By taking dedicated time for writing on your own papers, in company with others, you are committing both to yourself and the other participants.

A writing retreat refers to a structured session where participates dedicate their time to the texts they want to advance. The writing process is shared but not necessarily the texts. Even discussions during pauses can be focused on something else than the content that the researchers are working on, such as the experiential or emotional side of writing, scholarly identity, or something extra-academic.

Writing retreats have been used to increase the motivation and productivity of authors, to support junior scholars and to receive peer feedback and support. Many departments and research groups self-organize campus writing retreats, but the advantage of an online transnational writing retreat is to be able to develop Nordic, interdisciplinary and intergenerational connectedness.

Participants’ experiences

Our writing sessions consisted of 45 minutes of focus time, and of 15 minutes for pauses.

Many participants experienced the writing sessions as delivering support and motivation for working on texts that they had postponed or felt as challenging. Shared writing encouraged participants to meet their goals and even overcome their own expectations:

“Things that helped me during the writing retreat: I was motivated by knowing that I’m working with someone else in a virtual context to reach each one of us their personal professional goals. I had a good and safe feeling knowing that I am not alone in working and struggling with research challenges. Also I felt of being in competition with myself for 45 minutes and I wanted to de best I could. It helped me to keep up my motivation up knowing that at the break time I had to say to the others what I have done and to tell if I reached or not the goal that I had set at the beginning.”

Structured writing also increased the productivity:

“In the first session, I worked through a few readings and found a new definition – and suddenly the paper started to make sense again. I then used the remaining two sessions to write like crazy and start tidying up the argument. It made such a difference to have this dedicated time and share it with a group who share the same goal: to write. Thank you for making this possible!”

Writing retreats could also be helpful on the bad writing days:

“You have good writing days, and you have bad writing days, and this was a bad one! However, that’s why I’m especially glad that we could connect and write together. I was working on the first part of the empirical analysis in a journal article, and I was really struggling in which order to present things and how to make the outline more logical, but knowing that there were others behind their screens working on their challenges gave me the energy to go through this, and now I have a way forward.”

In future, we would be willing to continue providing writing sessions for researchers, as they especially support doctoral students in getting contacts to other Nordic colleagues. If you would like to join, please contact irmelin.w.nilsen@uib.no and keep an eye on our webinar catalogue.

Picture by Lauren Mancke via Unsplash.


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