Writing Chunks


This morning I had a Skype call with a US-based co-author. She was spending a week writing on an island near Goteborg, Sweden with another co-author. She called it ‘bliss’.

We’re so lucky to have Newcastle University’s H&SS faculty support our own ECR Writing Retreat. As it is soon upon us, I wanted to help set the scene for a great session.

Here is a link to the always enlightening Pat Thomson’s blog ‘patter’ on academic writing. She explains that she finds it helpful to aim to write in ‘chunks’ rather than targeting a number of words or pages.

How many ‘chunks’ away are you from finishing that section? Completing a draft? How many ‘chunks’ will you write today? This week?

At the beginning and end of each day of the retreat, we discuss goals and progress. How many writing chunks further can we get?

Plans are afoot to resume the ECR Writing Club’s regular sessions once the marking period ends —  we can’t wait to get back into the writing groove — chunks at a time!

Photo by mauro paillex on Unsplash

Seven months on…


This invited blog post is courtesy of one of our regular writing club participants (SJA):


The ECR writing club is now seven months old! Whilst I’ve not made it to every single writing session, since its official inception at the start of the academic year, I now make it my mission to be at writing club each week! Here are four reasons why…

First, the clearing of the diary (as teaching allows) for one day a week has been an important shift in focus for me. Rather than waiting for writing time to magically present itself (and passively wondering why it rarely does) or dipping in and out of research between commitments, this forces me to set aside quality writing time and crucially to make more productive use of that time.

Second, a day away from the office, particularly when we meet in a different building – even if only metres away from NUBS – creates an important physical distance from the (multiple!) demands of other aspects of our roles. This clears space for more focused thinking about research.

Third, for someone who has struggled to set achievable research goals, the practice of sharing plans for the day and reviewing these at the end is helping me to be (more) realistic in setting and meeting short-term targets.

Finally, the prospect of catching up with lovely peers during the (well-deserved) 5 minute, 15 minute and lunchtime breaks – and of course the ritual of heading to ‘Bait’ for a gourmet sandwich at lunchtime – is a helpful writing incentive if not THE main motivational highlight! This aspect has not gone unnoticed from our friends and family… to the extent that partners of several writing group members have affectionately dubbed the group: Eating Club! We know they’re only jealous… and clearly they have good reason to be! (Special thanks again to the wonderful Fiona Whitehurst and June Landless for the tea and coffee supplies for the Flavia machine which keep us well watered and happily tapping away on our laptops throughout the day!)

Despite the slight room temperature issues we have experienced on occasion (which helped us to feel at home (!) but thankfully seem to be sorted) and the inevitability of arriving back to pressing emails, writing club has provided me with a focused, supportive and motivational writing environment, impetus to move forward with research each week and a great excuse for a gourmet jalapeno tuna melt!


News: Residential Writing Retreat


For Semester 2 we changed the Writing Club meetings to Monday to accommodate our teaching schedules and finding a way of maintaining our practice has been a real benefit.

We were also successful in our bid for MOS Strategic Innovation Fund enabling us to organise a Residential Writing Retreat in the Northumberland countryside for Early Career Academics in early July.

Here is an excerpt from our bid explaining the value of Writing Retreats.


Following numerous positive experiences of the NUBS Early Career Researcher Writing Club (co-founded by three MOS ECR members), we believe a useful addition to our professional development and fostering the research culture would be to run a residential writing retreat that follows the same guidelines as the Writing Club. The main purpose of the club is to advance the research output, which is one of the core strategic goals at NUBS, as the institution is committed to research-led practices.

The ECR Writing Club provides a supportive community and a structured writing practice. Our routine includes sharing our writing goals for the day and follows the Pomodoro Technique to maintain focus and motivation. As the club is of an inclusive character, the invitation to take part is extended to a wider group of NUBS colleagues seeking a quiet and dedicated time and space to progress academic writing projects.

Increasingly the practice of offering academic writing retreats is shown to provide personal, professional and organisational benefits.

The five key elements of writing retreats conducive to increasing publication output were protected time and space; community of practice; development of academic writing competence; intra-personal benefits and organisational investment. Participants involved achieved greater publication outputs, particularly when provided ongoing support (Kornhaber et al. 2016).

Institutions encouraging writing retreats in practice include Bath, Sheffield and Warwick Universities, to provide supportive communities of practice free from other commitments and distractions. Variants include adopting a neo-liberal approach to quantify productivity and performance against projected outputs (https://theresearchwhisperer.wordpress.com). Our ECR Writing Club is committed to setting goals at the beginning of the writing sessions and then reflecting at the end of the day how these goals have been achieved.

This will be valuable to MOS and NUBS colleagues in terms of advancing the existing research culture and support the development of published work, tying with the research aims of the School and research communities to produce high-quality research output, aimed at 3* and 4* ABS publications. Finally, such activities contribute to stronger social cohesiveness within the school. Positive working culture is an important institutional objective for NUBS and such activities directly contribute to it.

Kornhaber et al. (2016) The benefits and challenges of academic writing retreats: an integrative review. Journal of Higher Education Research and Development. 25 (6): 1210-1227. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1144572


SFDs and Procrastination — Improving your writing practice — Book your places

I just read this *mid-procrastination* and wanted to share it before closing the browser tab, stopping the editing-while-writing, and resuming the crafting of my own SFD.

If you’d like to know what a SFD is, and when and why it’s useful, click below:



How are you finding your writing practice developing? Do you work better anonymously or in the trenches with fellow scribes?

If you’re not sure, our next and final writing club session of the Four Fridays Pilot is taking place tomorrow. We encourage you to give it a try.

Two further dates are now confirmed for Friday 15th and 29th September.

Please book your space using the doodle poll:



Finding a working rhythm

We are midway through the ECR Writing Club Pilot and members are finding it worthwhile to carve out a dedicated space and time for academic writing every week among like-minded colleagues.

To this end, we have agreed to try and continue the collaborative sessions every Friday throughout Semester 1 and aim to develop further ideas to encourage a supportive research environment.

If you would like to get involved, please reserve a place using the doodle poll (see previous posts for the link).

What’s the experience like?

The view from the ECR Writing Club windows

The group aims to do 7 pomodoro sessions interspersed by 5 minute breaks usually with shared snacks. We take a longer break for lunch.

  • We begin at 9am by discussing our writing aims for the day, and start the first silent pomodoro session.
  • Week 1, we started using 25 minute pomodoros and changed gears to try 45 minute sessions post-lunch.
  • Week 2 we experimented again (longer 45 minute sessions in the morning, and 25 minute focused bursts in the afternoon), which seemed to work well, depending on the task you are trying to achieve.
  • Around 4pm we finish by discussing our day’s progress, reflecting on what worked and what we could improve.

***Finally, we appreciate having access to the coffee and tea machine during the short breaks and would like to thank Fiona Whitehurst and June at Newcastle University Business School and the Newcastle University Organisational Development Team at the Core for their tokens of support.

Thanks to the Organisational Development Team for the literal tokens of support

Academic sustenance – coffee and tea supplied by Newcastle University Business School





Four Fridays: The Venue – Book your places

Hi Everyone

Thanks for sharing an interest in establishing a dedicated time and place for NUBS ECRs to progress their research writing.

Venue information: Room 2.23, The Core, Science Central

Adjacent to the silent work space is a break out room where refreshments can be consumed away from your writing area

To share the admin burden, we’ve set up a self-booking system using Doodle Poll so that you can reserve your space on the dates that you are able to attend

Please follow the link below:


Please note that the room capacity is limited to 18

Even if you cannot make this Four Fridays pilot but are interested in being part of the writing club in future, please let us know in the comments section at the end of the Doodle Poll!





ECR Writing Club – Summer Schedule 2017 – Four Fridays

ECR Writing Club

Summer 2017 schedule

Four Fridays (August 11, 18, 25 and September 1) from 9-4pm

followed by a Social Drink in town

(venues to be confirmed)

Today we met to share our ideas of what a supportive research environment would look like for Early Career Researchers (ECR).

This led to the idea of assembling an inclusive and supportive writing club that primarily provides a regular academic writing environment for ECR from Newcastle University Business School.

This initial pilot invites any Lecturers (Grades F & G) and Postgraduate Researchers in either the MOS or LWO Subject Groups to join.

For four consecutive Fridays this Summer, we will organise a silent community workspace and an adjacent area to relax and revive with refreshments that participants bring for sharing with others.

At the end of every session, the idea is to follow the session with a social drink somewhere in town to allow ECRs to get to know each other.

Numbers will be restricted based on room capacity.

Registration details to follow soon.



Josephine Go Jefferies, Lecturer in Marketing

Ana Javornik, Lecturer in Marketing

Laurence Vigneau, Lecturer in International Management

Rebecca Casey, Lecturer in Information Systems Management