Writing retreat

Writing retreats are four-day events with the purpose of supporting writing. The writing retreat allocates time and space that allow participants to focus on writing their monograph or research article without being distracted by their usual daily duties. Optional workshops are provided as part of the retreat in order to support and foster the writing process. Participants also have the opportunity to discuss their writing with their peers and share feedback on the texts they are working on. In order to facilitate a supportive writing environment and build a stronger academic community, the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts and the Graduate School of Linguistics, Philosophy, and Semiotics organize different writing retreats for our doctoral students and supervisors. In what follows, you may find additional information about each one.


traditsioonTraditional writing retreats usually last three to four days and take place in country hotels. They provide a supportive space and time that allows doctoral students to focus primarily on their writing without the usual daily obligations and distractions. The members of both graduate schools (GSCSA, GSLPS) and partner universities are welcome to the writing retreats that take place in January and June. Due to the popularity of writing retreats, the University of Tartu organizes additional writing retreats twice a year only for the UT doctoral students and supervisors.

The program includes optional workshops that focus on various aspects of writing as well as on different tools and strategies that facilitate the writing process. Time slots for individual consultations with the instructors are also included in the program, which provides a valuable opportunity for doctoral students to receive feedback on their writing and share any difficulties they may be facing.

Graduate schools’ supervisors are welcome to participate in the writing retreat; they may use the chance to write with their PhD student and/or have a supervision appointment.

Accommodation, transport, and catering are free for participants. Number of participants is limited, and we are not usually able to accept all applicants. Students who can participate full time are prioritized in the selection process. Previous participation in writing retreats is also considered with the goal of enabling more students to participate. 

Additional information and guidelines for applying are provided in the preliminary call.

The retreats are led by the writing retreat facilitator, Katarina Damčević (katarina.damcevic@ut.ee).


virtuaalWhile the importance of space is an important aspect of writing retreats, virtual retreats also offer relevant benefits, especially when it comes to providing a structured time to write and a sense of togetherness when face-to-face retreats are not an option. Virtual writing retreats are currently often an alternative to physical writing retreats due to the pandemic, but they are also extremely helpful for people who are not able to participate otherwise because of other limitations (such as temporarily living in another country). Participants are able to join from home, hotel or any other work room.

Virtual retreats follow a similar structure as face-to-face writing retreats: they include daily goal setting sessions, specific writing times, and coffee breaks to catch up with fellow writers. Occasionally, they may also include individual consultations and workshops related to various aspects of the writing process.

Additional details and guidelines are provided in the official announcements.

Virtual writing retreats are led by the writing retreat facilitator, Katarina Damčević (katarina.damcevic@ut.ee).


osakondFrom 2021, a new initiative takes place that will be aimed at organizing writing retreats for different deparments at the University of Tartu, Faculty of Arts and Humanities. The goals are to introduce the writing retreat format more widely and the importance and advantages of retreats for producing writing. The writing retreats help increase collaboration and a sense of community between doctoral students, as well as between doctoral students and their supervisors. Furthermore, when organized for a specific department, a part of the writing retreat content (such as workshops and/or small discussions) takes into account the thesis requirements specific to the department and their theoretical and methodological implications. Most importantly, both the doctoral students and their supervisors are provided with a structured and supported space and time for writing.

The retreats are organized in country hotels or hotels in order to ensure a supportive space for writing without the usual daily distractions and additional obligations.

The retreat is organized as a cooperation between the Graduate School’s project manager (Merili Hansen) and the department’s program coordinator, who is the main organizer. Every department can organize one retreat per year. Please fill out an event application and send it to Merili (merili.hansen@ut.ee).


töögruppThe purpose of small working group writing retreats is to facilitate PhD students’ progress on their thesis, collaboration with their supervisors, and among peers. Working groups can include three to eight participants and consist of doctoral students, doctoral students and their supervisors. The working groups lead the retreat independently and structure it according to their writing goals and needs.

The retreats are organized in country hotels or hotels. The working group writing retreats can last from two to four days. The retreat schedule depends on the doctoral students’ and supervisors' work plan, and it should be submitted via email when applying for the retreat.

In case doctoral students want to participate in a retreat without their supervisors, they should agree on the working plan and goals for the retreat with their supervisors and sign it.

When applying for the small group writing retreat, the following should be submitted to Merili Hansen (merili.hansen@ut.ee) at least a month before the event:

  1. Personal information: supervisor’s and student’s full name and email, graduate school (GSLPS, GSCSA), academic status. One person from the working group should be the main contact who will be in touch with Merili regarding the organizational aspects of the retreat.
  2. A work plan (written in a separate Word document) that has been agreed upon and signed by the doctoral student and their supervisor. There are no specific length requirements. The following guidelines can be useful when writing a work plan:
  • include brief background information about the text(s) you will be working on during the retreat (research questions, aims, stage of the work, etc.),
  • outline aspects that you would like to focus on during the retreat; setting daily, achievable goals and dedicating concrete writing sessions to work on them is a helpful strategy.

Doctoral students and their supervisors can apply for small working group writing retreats once per semester.