Online Training for Retreat Facilitators
12 & 14 April 2022, 10am-4.30pm

This course is for those who want to run Structured Writing Retreats. This is a series of workshops and presentations, mostly using Structured Writing Retreat timings. The facilitator is Rowena Murray.

Writing retreats have long been known to increase and improve scholarly output and research activity. A more recent form, Structured Writing Retreat (Murray and Newton 2009), can develop research capacity and activity. Attending multiple retreats can help to build research and writing into work and life. Consequently, some Deans, Research Coordinators and Heads of Department build writing retreats into institutional research strategies.

This course includes:

  • Review of writing retreat formats, focusing on Structured Writing Retreats
  • Explanations for rationale for this framework for writing
  • Strategies facilitators can use to support participants at writing retreats
  • Ideas on how to prepare for and organise retreats
  • Suggestions for ‘holding’ the retreat structure
  • Recurring issues and participants’ FAQs
  • Problem-solving
  • Review of the growing literature on writing retreats, academic writing and rhetoric
  • Practical sessions to develop retreat facilitation skills and review facilitation styles
  • Review of literature on health and wellbeing during periods of intensive writing
  • Evaluating and evidencing outputs and outcomes – measures and meanings
  • Strategies for internal and external dissemination of findings
  • Strategies for using, adapting and sustaining this model in other settings
  • Running online/virtual writing retreats and groups.

Before the course, I send participants four of my articles, as pre-reading, and four of my books: How to Write a Thesis, Writing for Academic Journals, The Handbook of Academic Writing (co-authored with Sarah Moore) and Writing in Social Spaces. I email course materials to participants one week before the course.

The course fee is £850, payable to Anchorage Educational Services.

For more information on Structured Writing Retreats, see retreats section. Any questions, email me at

Rowena Murray’s Rhetoric and Writing Course
2021 Dates to be confirmed

This course covers the principles of written argument. It focuses on rhetorical modes and shows how you can use them to construct journal articles and thesis chapters.

The programme includes:

  • Audience analysis
  • Rhetorical analysis of academic writing
  • Modes of exposition as ways of structuring writing
  • Modes of constructing written argument
  • Paragraph structures
  • Writing styles.

This course includes time for you to write in practical exercises, to put these rhetorical modes into practice with your current writing project.

So, bring your laptop, or pen and paper if you prefer, or both.

To register or for more details email

Thesis Writing Workshop – Dates in 2021 to be confirmed
Rowena Murray

This is a practical workshop, involving writing activities and discussions.

It covers different approaches to thesis writing and shows how to combine them:

  • strategies for generating text
  • writing to prompts
  • analysing academic writing
  • outlining
  • thesis structure
  • social writing
  • making time to write
  • constructing a ‘contribution’ argument
  • writing a 750-word thesis summary
  • building a repertoire of strategies for thesis writing.

These strategies are also relevant for journal article writing.

Participants can use laptops to write during this workshop, but it is not essential.

All of these activities can help participants to develop coherent thesis arguments and productive, healthy writing practices.

Key reference:
Murray, R (2017) How to Write a Thesis, 4th edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.

Rowena Murray’s Online ‘Endgame’ Workshop
for people trying to get back on track and finish a PhD thesis

During lockdown and while we’re working from home, I’m hearing that writing has, understandably, slipped onto the back burner for many people. We have other demands on our time – childcare, home schooling, caring and much more. Some of this is lovely, but even if you don’t have these demands, it seems that working online all the time takes more time and can be exhausting. This doesn’t leave much time or energy for academic writing.

So, I created this new workshop to help people get back on track and, if possible, carve out a way to complete the thesis – hence the ‘endgame’ title. I think this workshop will be most helpful for PhD students who want to submit the thesis in the next 6-12 months, even if you haven’t completed all your chapters.

This is how it works: I introduce four strategies over four weeks for developing your thesis argument. You write a piece each week, and I give you feedback on them. So that I have time to read and respond to everyone’s writing, the number of participants is limited to 10.

When – Wednesdays 9.15-12.30 on March 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th.
Cost – £150 per person (VAT not payable)

Writing activities in this workshop:

  1. Writing a 750-word thesis summary
  2. Writing a 300-word thesis abstract
  3. Writing introductory paragraphs for all thesis chapters
  4. Writing the thesis Conclusion chapter.

To book a place, email

Online ‘1+1’ model: Writing Workshop + Writing Retreat
Facilitated by Rowena Murray

1-day Writing Workshop – 10am-4pm – Dates to be confirmed

This workshop covers strategies for academic writing: writing to prompts, types of prompt for academic writing, ‘snack’ writing, goal-setting for writing, freewriting, generative writing, analysing academic writing, criteria, drafting and revising an abstract or summary, constructing a ‘contribution’ argument, using prompts in series, outlining, writing groups, micro-groups and retreats. Many of these can be used in preparing for a concentrated spell of writing at a writing retreat.

This is a practical workshop. The aim of the writing activities in this workshop is to let you try these strategies and consider how/if/where they can fit in your writing practice. We also discuss how they can be used for writing theses, articles and other writing. They also let you start/work on your writing project during the workshop.

For more details on these writing strategies and others, see
Murray, R. (2019) Writing for Academic Journals, 4th edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.
Murray, R. (2017) How to Write a Thesis, 4th edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.

1-day Writing Retreat – 8.55am-4.45pm

To provide dedicated writing time and develop productive writing practices.

This structured retreat uses the ‘typing pool’ model. We all write at the same time, for fixed time slots, using goal-setting and peer and self-monitoring for our individual writing projects. Because we all write together, we can discuss our goals at the start and end of the day (10-15 minutes). Almost all the retreat time is writing time.

Learning objectives

  1. Understand the Structured Writing Retreat model.
  2. Structure a writing day.
  3. Maintain well-being during intensive periods of writing.


08.55 Login
09.00-09.30 Introductions and writing warm up – setting writing goals for today
09.30-11.00 Writing
11.00-11.30 Break
11.30-12.30 Writing
12.30-13.30 Lunch
13.30-15.00 Writing
15.00-15.30 Break
15.30-16.30 Writing
16.30-16.45 Taking stock and planning next steps

Preparing for this writing retreat
Choose a writing project to work on – article, chapter, grant etc.
Read and research your target journal/publisher/funder/criteria and your topic.

Pre-retreat reading
Murray, R. and Newton, M. (2009) Writing retreat for academics: margin or mainstream?, Higher Education Research and Development, 28(5): 541-53.
Previous participants’ video testimonials at

Rowena Murray will facilitate and suggest strategies for making this approach work, e.g. getting started, outlining, keeping going and specific input on academic writing.