Online Writing Retreat with Rowena Murray
2021 Briefing Note


This is dedicated writing time in a supportive, non-surveillance environment: most of the time for writing, all of us writing at the same time. Please read Murray and Newton (2009) before the retreat, so you know what to expect. Brief scheduled discussions between writing slots generate solutions to writing problems, research conversations and/or feedback on writing-in-progress. See for details.

People work on their writing projects: chapters, books, reports, PhDs, conference abstracts, AHE Fellowships, articles, research proposals, fiction or other non-fiction. Retreat outcomes include increased productivity, reduced stress, constructive conversations, confidence in writing, quality of writing and cross-disciplinary talk. For these reasons, regular retreats or writing groups are recommended (see refs below), and/or the benefits of Structured Writing Retreats can be consolidated by writing groups, workshops and micro-groups in many other settings and groupings.

This retreat will be facilitated by Rowena Murray, working for Anchorage Educational Services. You can email me at

Retreat works best when you

  • Focus exclusively on writing.
  • Agree not to use internet during writing timeslots.
  • Discuss your writing-in-progress –> mutual peer support.
  • Define and discuss content and structure for writing sub-goals.
  • Take stock of your achievements of these goals throughout the programme.
  • Set specific goals and sub-goals, i.e. sections of paper/chapter, number of words.


Before you go to retreat

  • Read Murray and Newton (2009) article – available at
  • Decide on a writing project. Do reading and other preparation.
  • Review retreat timings: plan writing tasks for timeslots in each day.
  • Collect notes and plans. Outline the structure of your paper/chapter.



2-day online Structured Writing Retreat Programme

Other timings available: e.g. 1-day and 1+1 model in Courses section


Tuesday           8.45am            Zoom login ID …, PW … & introductions

                        9-9.30              Planning & writing warm up

  • Writing
  • Break
    • Writing

12.30-2            Time to be active 12.30-1.15 + lunch 1.15-2

2-3.30              Writing

3.30-4              Break

4-5.30              Writing

5.30-5.45         Taking stock & planning next writing goals


Wednesday     9am                 Zoom login (same numbers as yesterday – see above)

                        9.15-9.30         Planning discussion

  • Writing
  • Break
    • Writing

12.30-2             Time to be active 12.30-1.15 + lunch 1.15-2

2-3.30               Writing

3.30-4.30          Break, taking stock, outputs, feedback, next moves


References: Evidence of outputs and outcomes
Murray R (2015) Writing in Social Spaces: A Social Processes Approach to Academic Writing. London: Routledge.
Murray, R (2012) It’s not a hobby: Reconceptualizing the place of writing in academic work, Higher Education, 66(1): 79-91.
MacLeod I, Steckley L & Murray R (2011) Time is not enough: Promoting strategic engagement with writing for publication, Studies in Higher Education, 37(5): 641-54.
Murray R & Newton M (2009) Writing retreat as structured intervention: Margin or mainstream?, Higher Education Research and Development, 28(5): 527-39.
Murray R (2020) Writing for Academic Journals, 4th edition. Maidenhead: Open University Press-McGraw-Hill.