Writing Retreat

In addition to a wide range of courses and events at the GSPoL, which offer doctoral students new research insights and perspectives, the graduate school supports and encourages its members to develop their own formats and initiatives. In this vein, some doctoral students organized a writing retreat in the summer semester of 2019. The group’s retreat into nature was intended to promote intensive and continuous writing by overcoming typical writing obstacles such as lack of time in the hectic pace of everyday life or writing blocks.



© Privat
  • © Privat
  • © Privat
  • © Privat

Inspired by Hector Feliciano’s experience during his time at Weinberg College in Evanston, Illinois, several doctoral students explored if and how this kind of excursion can enrich and facilitate their research. In a remote hut in Bathmen in the Netherlands, they read, wrote, and discussed questions and challenges related to their own projects, following a strict schedule.

Based on this successful experiment in May 2019, the format was further developed and repeated in January 2020 with the kind and generous support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and with funding from the Federal Foreign Office. This time the trip went to the nearby Steinfurt-Borghorst. Despite the short distance to the city of Münster, the rural ambience provided a peaceful and quiet atmosphere and encouraged the participants to concentrate on their projects. This time the program was expanded and included writing workshops and peer feedback. At the same time, the time spent together was a wonderful opportunity to get to know fellow students better and to learn from each other. In addition to the diverse national and disciplinary background of the participants, the exchange between younger and older students and the different stages of development of their projects proved to be great advantages for mutual support and motivation.

  • Further Reading

    Kent, Alexandra et al (2017): ‘Promoting writing amongst peers: establishing a community of writing practice for early career academics’. Higher Education Research & Development, Vol. 36, No. 6, pp. 1194-1207.

    Madelaine Chiam, Sundhya Pahuja & James E.K. Parker (2018): “How to Run a Writing Workshop? On the Cultivation of Scholarly Ethics in ‘Global’ Legal Education”, Australian Feminist Law Journal, 44:2, pp. 289-302,

    Moore, Sarah (2003): ‘Writers’ Retreats for Academics: exploring and increasing the motivation to write’. Journal of Further and Higher Education, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 333-342.

    Newport, Cal (2016): Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. New York.

    Papen, Uta & Virginie Thériault (2018): ‘Writing Retreats as a milestone in the development of Ph.D. students’ sense of self as academic writers’. Studies in Continuing Education, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 166-180.

    Singh, R.J. (2012): ‘Promoting writing for research: The “writing retreat” model’. South African Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 66-76.