Performing the Word Residential Writing Retreat

Published: Wednesday 12th November 2014

Higher Degree Research (HDR) Law and Business candidate, Michael Gatumu, was sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research to attend the annual Performing the Word Residential Writing Retreat in Victoria in October.

Performing the Word is a live-in writing retreat for HDR candidates keen to extend the boundaries to how they present scholarly knowledge. Developed and run by Victoria University’s Professor Ron Adams, the retreat is a core program in the Demystifying the Thesis initiative for which he was awarded the ALTC’s 2010 peak Award for Programs that Enhance Learning: Postgraduate Education.

Here, Michael writes about his experience:

“The writing retreat was facilitated by Professor Ron Adams and Dr Rose Lucas from Victoria University. Fellow participants came from different universities across Victoria and Tasmania. The participants had such varied backgrounds and experiences, and a sense of collegiality was developed early on in the retreat.

There were different activities and exercises in the five days. On the first day, the participants performed short stories which everyone had prepared prior to the retreat. The stories contained a mixture of inspiration, humour, insight and sentimentality. The other exercises included a ‘writing wake up’ in the early morning which involved writing a chapter and reading it out to the group.  We then learned how to brainstorm this chapter and how to edit it.

Each of the participants had time for a personal session with both Rose and Ron to discuss a paragraph we had written. All these exercises provided me with tools to produce more engaging, meaningful and respectful writings. I took home an empowering message that I have a voice which should come through in my writing.

In addition to this, Dr Rob McCormack, Victoria University, was available for consultations throughout the retreat, and Australian writers Brian Matthews and Lucia Nardo held two very helpful sessions.

Now that I am back after a productive and enjoyable time at the retreat, I am inspired to use the techniques that I have learnt from the retreat. I have shared the strategies (e.g. a framework for reviewing a chapter and conceptualisations of the writing process) with my supervisor, Professor Lynne Bennington.  The knowledge that I gained at the retreat will help ensure that my academic writing will be knowledgeable, precise and engaging.

I hope that other ACU research candidates will have similar opportunities to explore their writing skills.”

Performing the Word is a collaborative venture between Victoria University and Edith Cowan University.