During the week of 15-19 November 2021, ten Masters, PhD and Post-doctoral students joined the Chair at the farm, Fynbos Estate, in Malmesbury outside of Cape Town for a writing retreat.
The aim of the retreat was for students to focus, without distractions, on a piece of writing to help them further their academic goals. The schedule of the retreat consisted of group writing activities and seminars led by Prof Wynberg as well as by other students, and independent writing. Throughout the week, students set up meetings with one another in an effort to collaborate on current and future writing ventures.
Students all came to the retreat at different stages of the writing process. Some students had pieces already constructed that had been shared with others through a peer-review process and needed fine-tuning before publication submission, while others came without any written material with a goal of completing an outline to their thoughts in order to begin the writing process.
Each student worked independently throughout the week and had the opportunity to meet with Prof Wynberg one-on-one to discuss their writing goals. Each morning, students met after breakfast to engage in a writing warm-up activity, and each evening, the students gathered for a warm meal and a final group exercise. The group work topics included: editing, research ethics, journal submission guidelines, and the “dos and don’ts” of writing.
Without the distractions of the outside world, each student (and Prof Wynberg!) made significant measurable progress towards their writing goals by the end of the retreat. Peer feedback was received, chapters were written, thesis outlines and aims and objectives were solidified and refined (and even changed), literature reviews were written up, journals were selected, publications were edited, and brains were exhausted. The opportunity to “unplug” from the outside world – surrounded by nature – was clearly what all of the students needed to end the academic year on a high note.