Archives for posts with tag: time to think

This is a guest post for WriteFest (#AcWriFest17) by Sarah Muller & Liz Trueman, Postgraduate Researchers and Writing Retreat Organisers, School of Languages & Cultures, University of Sheffield.

AHwriting.pngFinding time and space for productive writing can be a difficult task. Sometimes looming deadlines, missed extensions, a judging blank page or that nagging feeling of guilt can’t move you to get writing – sometimes these can even be the reasons why you’ve developed a writing block. We have found that whether you work in an office space or from home, there is always one more thing to prepare, one more email that has been sitting in your inbox for a while, or one more meeting that you need to attend. All of these things, as important as they may be, keep you from doing that one thing that you’ve been meaning to do for weeks now: write.

We know this feeling all too well, and when we spotted an email advertising the Think Ahead writing retreats in spring 2017, we thought we should give it a go. We signed up for an afternoon session that was running on the very same day, even though we were not sure exactly what would await us.

Before the first break, we knew: we had been more productive in that first writing block than we had been in a long time. The entire afternoon session was such a success that we decided then and there that we wanted to organise our own writing retreats for our faculty, which would run alongside the Think Ahead retreats. Our retreats would also offer a social space for members of the faculty to get together, meet new peers, be productive, and address the elephant in the room: creating time and space for writing is a challenge that most of us face, but not many of us talk about.

Our writing retreats were founded on the desire for better socialisation and networking within our own research community, which would in turn create a supportive writing environment.  Research can be an isolating experience and we saw the opportunity to make writing an inclusive activity.  We started small and have expanded the retreats, initially trialing the project within just our own School of Languages and Cultures.

While there was an encouraging demand for the project, we soon received requests to attend from members of the other Arts & Humanities Schools.  We found we had the space in the retreats, and the confidence in ourselves, to open our project to the entire Faculty and this has been our biggest success.  The Arts & Humanities Writing Retreats bring our Faculty together in a way which overcomes the usual disciplinary divides and we, as well as our retreaters, have made new connections, friends and research links.

Clearing your calendar for a day or a half-day to attend a writing retreat is a move your future self will always thank you for: by sharing writing goals, updating each other on progress throughout the day, being driven by peer pressure, and most important of all, writing offline without the distraction of emails or phones, you will find writing retreats extremely productive and rewarding. In addition, the social aspect of the day (as well as the snacks, some say) make the Arts & Humanities Writing Retreats a date in our calendars that we are always excited to organise and run.

If you are in the University of Sheffield Faculty of Arts & Humanities and you have a deadline coming up, or have just missed an extension, why not try a writing retreat and book a space for the 30th November?

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You may have read a recent post by my colleague, Bryony, which introduced the Thirty30 Staff Development Festival at The University of Sheffield. Well, we’re now in November and the festival is well underway, with lots of activity taking place around campus (have you checked out the Lego Lunches and the Active Learning Sets?) and the hashtag #myThirty30 seemingly a major fixture on our twitter timeline.

One of the ideas behind Thirty30 is that “development is everywhere”. I was thinking about this in the build up to the festival as my role is to support Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Researchers with their professional development but, if I’m honest, I rarely take time to attend development events myself. I can feel a bit of a fraud advocating to others to take the time out to invest in themselves when I don’t really do that as much as I should. Read the rest of this entry »

Dog dressed as a bee with the caption "My SPSS skills are second to none..."

My SPSS skills are second to none…

Over the weekend I was reading the latest volume of Stephen Fry’s autobiography, More Fool Me. Throughout, the way he purports to see himself (sly, foolish, intellectually wanting…) is a million miles away from the way he is perceived by most of the ‘general public’, who – from an entirely unscientific skim of social media – tend to regard him as a terribly brainy good-guy, whose biggest sin is being a bit smug. This got me thinking (because I’m rock and roll like that) about the differences between how we see ourselves in a professional context and how others see us – particularly about the way in which we perceive our skill, abilities, strengths and weaknesses.

The internet is packed full of inspirational quotes assuring you that  how others see you is not important; how you see yourself is everything. But, let’s not forget that the internet is also full of dogs dressed up as bees, so, you know, caveat lector. Whilst I’d certainly agree that self-perception is incredibly important, in terms of career development and professional progression, the way we’re viewed by others is crucial.

Read the rest of this entry »