Chapter 11 Creating and Sustaining a Community of Academic Writing Practice

The Multi-University Residential Academic Writing Retreat Model

In: Critical Collaborative Communities

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Abstract

A qualitative case-study narrative documents a series of annual five-day residential academic writing retreats that have brought 39 academics together across universities, fields of study, career stages, and countries since 2007. Inspired by , the retreats foreground goals related to enhancing scholarly writing productivity, fostering participants’ identities as academic writers, strengthening peer relationships, and fostering a community of practice. Writers work on independent and collaborative writing projects, provide feedback to one another, participate in workshops, share meals, and prioritize their work as writers. Together the writers form a community involving joint activities and shared resources for individual and collective academic writing practice. The learning value of the community is captured through writers’ commitments to advancing their own and others’ learning. Evolution, participation, and rhythm sustain the community. The retreat model allows community evolution with attention to individual and social (i.e., private and public) aspects of writing and being writers. Writers engage in different levels of participation, focusing on community values and encouraging open dialogue within and beyond the community. Community activities create a predictable rhythm (i.e., a community heartbeat) that establishes expectations and promotes belonging yet leaves space for diversified rhythms (i.e., a jazz beat) that respect each individual’s process and goals. The chapter concludes with reflections intended to inform and inspire academic writers and retreat facilitators.

Critical Collaborative Communities

Academic Writing Partnerships, Groups, and Retreats

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