By Jess

At the end of November a group of PhD students from RSES headed to ANU’s coastal campus in Kioloa for the first RSES writing retreat.

As expected of a ‘writing’ retreat, a lot of us were writing, but there were also people reading, coding, making figures – any work that can be done from a laptop.

The days had timetabled writing sessions, which were structured in 25 minute long pomodoros1 with 5 minute breaks, and longer stops for morning/afternoon tea and lunch. Working in short intensive sessions with regular breaks really helped to keep focused, and with everyone on the retreat keen to get work done, there was a good sense of solidarity.

Concentration during a writing session (Photo: Jennifer Prichard)

To reward us for our hard work and keep us motivated there were some more social activities including a lunch out by the beach (studying the coastal geology was optional), a campfire with marshmallows and our very own hand made Damper2 (thanks Hannah!), and enough free time in the evenings to go for a swim in the sea or just relax.

Lunch at Pretty Beach (Photo: Hannah James)
Geologists at the beach (Photo: Hannah James)
An evening around the campfire

Following the success of the first RSES writing retreat, hopefully we’ll be seeing more of these coming our way in the future!

A huge thank you to Chris, Hannah and Rose for all their time and effort put into organising the retreat, and for doing such a great job of it.

We would like to thank ANU Research Skills and Training for their advice and resources on developing the writing retreat format. We would also like to thank PARSA for the Student Extracurricular Enrichment Fund (SEEF) award, and RSES for the funding which made the retreat possible.

Happy faces on the last day (Photo: Hannah James)

1 The Pomodoro writing technique is to 25 minutes of quiet work followed by a 5 minute break. This is most often used in ‘Shut up and Write’ sessions.

2 For other non-Australians Damper is a sort of basic bread which you cook on a campfire. It’s maybe more fun than it is delicious… the chocolate chips definitely helped with ours!