Chapter 8 The Benefits of Writing Retreats Revisited

In: Critical Collaborative Communities

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In this chapter, we examine examples of writing communities embodied in two writing retreats, the Writing Circle at York University and the Writers’ Collective at Humber College. Although similar in aim and structure, one has not succeeded in fostering a community of writers while the other one has – Humber’s success being attributed, in part, to an intensive off-campus retreat that fed the Writers’ Collective. In our analysis, we discovered that retreat attributes such as protected time and space, community of practice, improved writing competency, intrapersonal benefits, and institutional investment are valuable outcomes in and of themselves, in addition to uncertain and often overemphasized writing productivity. For our communities, characterised by peripheral participation into the writing for publication paradigm, prioritizing relationship building and increased self-efficacy were critically important. We conclude by suggesting that writing communities such as the ones described here can empower an increasingly diverse group of academics such as female scholars, early career academics, contract professors, and college-sector faculty to see themselves as capable writers. For these individuals, institutionalized experiences that foster a sense of community and self-efficacy may be as important as engagement with writing per se. The challenge, then, is to find ways to nurture a sense of belonging, both as a legitimate member of such communities and as a capable writer.

Critical Collaborative Communities

Academic Writing Partnerships, Groups, and Retreats



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