Writing Retreats

Carving out time to do serious academic writing during the semester can be tough. The Writing Center’s (virtual) Graduate Writing Retreats are here to help!

The Writing Center and the Graduate Student Senate sponsor days to write during the semester. The goal of this initiative is to provide accountability and support for participants to get writing done. These sessions are not writing instruction; instead, the goal is writing productivity.

Due to procedures implemented to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, fall 2020 writing retreats will happen online.

We encourage you to stay all day, but you're welcome to also drop in and out as your schedule permits.

Event Details:
Modality: Virtual (Microsoft Teams)
Next Retreat: Friday, December 11, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cost: FREE for UConn graduate students (but you must register below)


All day: Open writing time
9:05-9:30 a.m.:
Morning meeting
9:30-9:50 a.m.: Resource sharing session
10:00-10:50 a.m.: Focus session 1
12:00-12:30 p.m.: Lunch social
1:00-1:50 p.m.: Focus session 2
2:00-2:50 p.m.: Workshop: "Storyboarding Your Writing Projects"
3:00-3:50 p.m.: Peer review session
4:10-4:30 p.m.: Afternoon debrief

Activity Descriptions

All of the activities on the schedule are completely optional. You don't have to participate in any of them if you don't want to; you can just log into the retreat and write! You can also opt in to just one or two of the activities without participating in others.

Open Writing Time
Once you're logged in to the writing retreat's Microsoft Team, you can spend as much of the day as you want writing. What's important is that you will know you are writing alongside others, even if physically separated. Feel free to post questions about a sentence you're writing or share a meme about your current writing mood on MS Teams' "General Channel" to interact with the community of other UConn grad writers at the retreat. Meanwhile, if you do better writing quietly but with community, we'll have an open video call you can hop onto throughout the day. If you're feeling stuck, you can jump into any of the optional sessions that will take place throughout the day, which are described below.

Morning Meeting
During our brief morning meeting (a video call on MS Teams), the Coordinator of Graduate Writing Support will introduce how the retreat will run and overview the Teams platform if you're not familiar with it. We'll also introduce ourselves and do some goal-setting to define what each of us wants to accomplish during the retreat. All participants are strongly encouraged to attend the morning meeting.

Resource Sharing Session
Join us for an unstructured show-and-tell of sorts, where we share the practices, technologies, guides, and other resources we rely on to be effective writers. Learn something from your peers and also share the tips and tricks you've picked up! If you don't make it to the synchronous meeting, we can keep posting ideas to an asynchronous discussion throughout the day.

Focus Sessions
There will be two focus sessions throughout the day. The goal of the focus sessions is to set a short and achievable task for yourself and then get it done within the next hour by holding yourself accountable with another peer writer. You'll match with one or two other peer writers on a video call through Teams. At the start of the session, you'll each quickly outline your goal for the focus session. Then, with your camera still on, you'll write for the next 45 minutes. At the end of the session, you'll quickly debrief with your partner and assess your progress. Take a 10 minute break after the focus session before getting back to work or joining a new retreat activity.

Lunch Social
Everyone needs to take breaks while writing. Join a 30-minute video call in the middle of the day to eat lunch and chat with your colleagues from across the university who are also writing alongside you today. Don't worry—since this is all taking place virtually, you won't bother your peers who are in their groove and want to power right through the lunch hour. Introducing pets and humans who share your writing space with you is encouraged but not required.

Workshop: "Storyboarding Your Writing Projects"
Maybe you need a break from writing during the "afternoon slump." Or maybe you are looking for ways to extend the writing energy you have today to the days and weeks after the retreat. Pop into this short afternoon workshop, facilitated by the Coordinator of Graduate Writing Support, to create a productivity plan for managing your writing project long-term.

Peer Review Session
Hopefully you've gotten some writing done by this point. If you'd like to switch gears from drafting to revision, join a peer review session before the retreat ends. If you've never done peer review of this sort, we'll provide a script to guide you through the session. The goal is for all participants to get targeted feedback on a small section of your writing.

Afternoon Debrief
At the end of the day, you may want a chance to decompress and reflect on how the day went for you. This session is intended both as a chance to "vent" and to celebrate the accomplishments of the writing community. We'll share the writing strategies that you found helpful today and would like to take with you into your next writing task or session.

Accountability Partners
If you'd like an accountability partner to help you keep on track with your writing goals both during the retreat and after it, you can sign up to get matched with someone when you register. You'll be introduced to each other by email, and you'll be encouraged to "meet up" at some point during the retreat to discuss goals and plan regular check-ins. In order to be matched with an accountability partner, you must register at least 3 days before the retreat begins.

Word Count Tracking
Do you need frequent accountability to help you stay on task? Do you find a little friendly competition motivating? If you sign up for word count tracking, you'll be invited to share your current word counts throughout the day. If that sounds like it would make you anxious, don't worry; word count tracking is only visible to those who opt in to this activity.

If you have questions about writing retreats, please email gradwriting@uconn.edu