Writing Retreats - Getting away in the name of Science
Writing Retreats are an amazing way to get stuff done. And show me a single researcher who is not into this ;)
We're all busy. With our dissertations, journal articles, reviews or markings. And sometimes it is necessary to break out of your common working environment to refocus and to realise that there is still another world out of the academia bubble! Because Writing Retreats are also great for socialising. To bond with your colleagues and fellow PhD students who have to fight similar obstacles and who are able to lift you up again when you feel like you are not getting anything straight these days...
After a successful Writing Retreat in September which I have used to define my research, we were now heading to Manukau Heads where we have rented a Bach (Kiwi holiday home) over the long weekend. Each one of us (five doctoral students of the AUT School of Hospitality [&] Tourism) had a particular goal set for the 2,5 days. I wanted to finalise my book chapter for ICNT on my Master thesis and to mentally return back to my fieldwork 3 years ago to write about my personal experiences with the whales for another book project. So for me it was all about orcas again. The most important thing, however, is to have realistic goals ;) We roughly had 18h for writing as we also planned some activities together such as beach picnic or visiting the lighthouse to have the real NZ experience. And since this was one of Auckland's hottest weekends, we also expected that our brains would not be as functional as usual...:P
Going back in the past can be a highly emotional matter. During writing I thought about how my love for whales had developed and how it is possible that my parents are so supportive when they are, at the same time, so scared. A parents-paradox, I guess. When you're looking back you also see how far you've come. I felt a lot of gratitude and it definitely makes up for times when you are at loss for words - the infamous writer's block.
With me was little Hoa, my orca sidekick, who got featured on the Instagram page - and who helped me to stay focused.
Getting out of busy Auckland was just great, however, for now this has been my last Writing Retreat as I'll be in the field already when the next one in September is taking place. Then it is all about collecting ;)
So anyone who needs to put time aside for writing: Go for it! Get yourself a place (not home!) and get stuff done!