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Djuddah A.J. Leijen February 15, 2019

Rowena Murray

Rowena Murray is an internationally recognised expert on academic writing. She has published a number of books including the Handbook of Academic Writing, co-authored with Sarah Moore, Writing for Academic Journals, and How to Write a Thesis. She publishes about her research on writing and writers and is the founder of structured writing retreats, which she regularly runs for PhD students in the UK and abroad. In this conversation, Rowena talks about her new workshop Writing and Rhetoric and how she imported writing and rhetoric to the UK after having studied in the US.   We discuss the concept of writing programmes and how a writing programme lines up against writing courses. She contemplates how courses may provide students with the general knowledge they need and writing programs provide a more holistic support for institutions,  targeting instructors, supervisors and across the discipline.  Furthermore, we explore how different writing interventions support writing production, and how some other interventions (such as time off to write) may not always prove to be productive at all for some academics. In our talk, Rowena emphasises that currently we bring in aspects of developing positive writing habits into writing courses and that knowing how to write is not always a guarantee for being productive. Stress and anxiety have a huge impact on writing, and one way students can overcome these are by attending writing retreats. Rowena explains how her concept of structured writing retreats developed and how important these retreats have been and are for writers. Finally, we end with a discussion how a 1st year PhD student should approach writing, and the importance of students to, from the start, develop positive writing habits and, in addition, to build a repertoire of writing. 

What you’ll learn from this episode: 

– What writing and rhetoric is and how thinking about writing rhetorically supports writing about very complex topics. 

– How writing programs support writing cultures and writing courses at institutions

– The importance of placing writing outcomes in line with effective writing interventions

– How to think about supporting and developing behavioural change and habit forming amongst writers

– What are structured writing retreats? 

– The importance of developing healthy writing habits 

– And, how 1st year PhD students can develop positive writing habits and build a strong writing repertoire 


Rowena Murray 

Writing Retreats for Academics 

Rhetoric and Writing

Books Rowena Murray

Supervising Writing 

Dunstan et al.  

Rowena Murray