Day 8: Our Independence

It is our final day of the #writreat. It is fitting that we come to a close right before our national celebration of independence. Of course, independence holds certain meaning when applied to a nation’s history. But independence, at its most basic level, means having full autonomy over one’s own life. I hope you have all gathered certain strength in our short time together. I hope you have come into an independent understanding of yourself as a unique writer. And I truly marvel at how much has been generated here in such a short time. You are all remarkable. I congratulate the emergence of your collective wisdom(s).

Still, the truth is that I am also looking forward to a change of pace after our intensive #writreat time comes to an official close. I will return to my own writing projects. As a professor/scholar, the summer is always a critical time for my own research and writing. I will take some of the advice that has bubbled up during this retreat – advice about pacing, about setting small reachable goals, about paying attention to my own ebb and flow regarding creativity.

I have learned so much from each and every one of you. Our Day 7 Author’s Chair was extraordinary. I am quite sure that our final Author’s Chair will be no different. Every writer in this group has amazed me, each in their unique own way. 

#Writreat tweets of hope

Daily Agenda

Listed below is the agenda for Day 8 of our Writer’s Retreat:

Morning Session:

We start as usual at 9 am with our final morning session. After announcements, shout outs, and the agenda we will move on to our “Write into the Day” exercise at 10:15 am, and the final “Tool for the Day” at 10:30am.

Write Into the Day

Lunch Break


Time for a bite!

Tool of the Day:

See Resources

Afternoon Session:

Our final “Author’s Chair” afternoon is slated for the 1 pm-3:00 pm time frame.  We will hear from Teethee, Dylan, Valerie, Kelsey, Hugo, and Kefah.

The Final Steps

Your last blog:

To wrap up, I hope you will post your last blog after class. Some of you will include a sense of your “working plan” for proceeding with writing/research for the remainder of the summer. Please write your final blog as a final reflection to all of your fellow #writreat writers. 

The wrap up:

To officially close out our class together, I would like you to email me before Friday, July 2 at midnight (deadline). Your email to me should include a google doc which includes:

  1. a link to any writing you completed within the confines of the Writer’s Retreat (sort of like a #writreat portfolio)
  2. a brief “self-assessment” (in letter form) which covers a sense of your own accomplishments related to learning within the context of this #writreat experience. 

Here are some prompts to guide your self-assessment:

-What expectations did you have? -What “take-aways” emerged from the experience of this course?  -Were there unexpected experiences? Tell me about them. -What new skills did you acquire? -What did you enjoy the most from taking this course? -What learning was most impactful? 

After addressing some of these questions, I would like you to also tell me what grade you think you achieved based on the work and learning you did in this class. Why do you think that grade is appropriate? I know this might make you feel uncomfortable, but I want to hear from you about this.  I reserve the right to agree or disagree with your grade suggestion, but I am sincerely interested in your own perspective on what you have learned and how you value it. 

A Parting Poem:

Enjoy the remainder of summertime!

I will miss you all. But we have some summer left to live. Soon enough, we will all experience a transition-ridden September together.  It will take a lot from all of us to readjust, once again. Take the time to reflect upon this, and be mindful of what you need to acclimate to a new pace in life.

Remember, I am just an email away ;).

Have a happy and healthy holiday weekend!

Day 7: in Stride

Here we are….the penultimate day of our #writreat.

You have stretched your wings, you have found a groove, you have hit a stride. Together we have covered some conversational themes such as compassion, creativity and revision. We have faced self-doubt head on and we have also acknowledged the gift of community and peer-learning. We have meditated together, and we have reconsidered the notion of “rigor” while still paying heed to the importance of our academic engagement.

So here we are, in our stride. ….Ready to embark on our last two rounds of “Author’s Chair”.

#Writreat Tweets of Artistic Inspiration

Daily Agenda

Listed below is the agenda for Day 7 of our Writer’s Retreat:

Morning Session:

We will get started as usual at 9 am synchronous session on Zoom. We will also have our “Write Into the Day” and Sun’s “Tool for the Day” walkthrough.

Write Into the Day

Lunch Break


Afternoon Session:

We are on the home stretch now, and we have two final “Author’s Chair” afternoons to savour together. We will have six readers each round, and there should be about 10 minutes devoted to the reading, and 10 minutes devoted for feedback for each of you. Please have a good “think” about what you would like to share, and what kind of feedback you are specifically seeking. This will be helpful to all of us listening intently.

Today’s “Author’s Chair” readers: Diana, Amber, Tom, Kate, Katherine & Maura.

As always. don’t forget your daily blog and tweet to wrap up Day 7!

Tool for the Day:

Day 6: Calibration

We are now calibrating. You are ascertaining the meaning of your work-in-progress, your are determining the scope of your project, you are making a series of project “adjustments”. By now you have realized that pacing, setting small realistic goals, finding structure, and the ability to constantly “calibrate” your process are all a part of the writing process. Remember – understand yourself, understand your own “process ebb and flow”, plan and adjust, and always…keep going.

#Writreat Tweets about thinking:

Daily Agenda

Listed below is the agenda for Day 6 of our Writer’s Retreat:

Morning Session:

June 29: Getting up early for my #writreat walk was definitely worth it.

We will get started as usual at 9 am. After our usual “shout outs” and agenda coverage we will move on to our “Tools for the Day“ and our “Write into the Day” rituals.

Write Into the Day

Lunch Break


Time to replenish and get something tasty to eat.

Afternoon Session:

We start again at 1 PM. Your afternoon session for Day 6 includes conferencing for Group 3 and Group 4. Remember that in small groups this afternoon, you will have a chance to take the “author’s chair” (share a 5-10 minute reading of your work-in-progress) – OR – you can use the time to discuss your overall progress. ***Whatever your strategy for sharing progress, you should also prepare specific questions to ask your small group team (leading them to specific forms of feedback) after you share your work in some form. And remember to work hard, to keep at it, and to be generative with your work as we keep going.

Please don’t forget to write your next reflective blog post about your progress and process today. …..Day 6 is a wrap!

Tool of the Day:

Day 5: Making the Most out of Week 2

Welcome back, #Writreat writers. I hope you had a great weekend. It has been three days, but in some ways, it doesn’t seem like we had that much time off. Nevertheless, it is time to dive back in. I am looking forward to reconnecting and finding that generative energy again, so be ready to re-engage with vigor. 

At this stage, you all have a clear project that you are “in the midst of”. Today you will need to refine/recalibrate your short term goals in order to set yourself up for a successful Week 2 of our Writer’s Retreat. This week’s stretch is the time to practice some self-discipline to meet your goals for this retreat, and it is also a time to surge forth – pushing through self-doubt, generating as much ground work as possible to make your project take shape for the coming week (and beyond). For some, that means taking the time you need to let the ideas rise and writing to capture them. For some of you it means reading a lot, in order to start an imaginative conversation with the writers who came before. For some of you it means more specific research as you look up things to find scholarship and articles on issues that you need to understand more. For some of you it means returning to a draft and revising to address productive editorial suggestions. And for some of you, it means just starting to write what you know. Whatever the case, be sure to set a specific course for what you would like to accomplish by Thursday (and always keep in mind the goals you might be setting for yourself beyond Thursday).

#Writreat weekend tweets:

Daily Agenda

Listed below is the agenda for Day 5 of our Writer’s Retreat:

Morning Session:

We will get started at 9 am with our Zoom synchronous session. In the first half of the day we will kick off the week with some reflections and goal setting. We will also have a shout outs and the Tool for the Day.

Write Into the Day

Lunch Break


Time to fuel up again so replenish, revive, recharge.

Afternoon Session:

We start again at 1 PM. Your afternoon session for Day 5 includes breakout room time for all small groups. Group 1 and Group 2 have conferencing time with Dr. Zamora. Group 3 and 4 are invited to do a smaller version of the “author’s chair” (share a 5-10 minute reading of your work-in-progress) – OR – you can use the time to discuss your overall progress. ***Whatever your strategy for sharing progress, you should also prepare specific questions to ask your small group team (leading them to specific forms of feedback) after you share your work in some form. In small group time you can also elect to use some of the time to write, but you must check in first, and determine your best use of group time (with shared-purpose).

Don’t forget to write your next reflective blog post about your progress and process today before the day ends. …..Day 5 comes to a close!

Tool(s) of the Day:

Write Better Headlines:
Pomodoro timer:
Answer the Public:
Digital Sounds:

Day 4, Halfway Point

Time seems to be flying. Another day of the Writer’s Retreat is behind us, and we are now coming up on the “halfway” point. Day 4 of the Writer’s Retreat will close out the first of our two weeks together. Much has happened in a very short time frame. In some ways, time can move very rapidly, and in other ways it creeps on by. On Day 4 we will have our first “Author’s Chair” experience together – a chance to read your work-in-progress (with your fellow “writers-in-retreat”). This will be a perfect way to close our week, as we head off for a long weekend stretch. Despite the fact we will not be meeting over the course of the weekend (Friday through Sunday), I do hope you write if the compulsion strikes. Let the work come to you if you have the chance to steal some time for it over the weekend.

#Writreat wisdom tweets:

Daily agenda

Listed below is the agenda for Day 4 of the Writer’s Retreat. 

Morning Session:

June 24th, Day 4 of the Writer’s Retreat: My writer’s walk at sunrise this morning.

We will get started at 9 am with our usual synchronous session. I will cover the schedule for the day and any other pragmatic concerns about our overall plan. We will also have our visit from Sun for the Tool for the Day and our “Write into the Day” exercise.

Write Into the Day

Lunch Break

12:00-1:00 PM: 



Relish a bit of down time.

Afternoon Session:

Our Author’s Chair time is from 1-2:45pm. This stretch of time will be devoted to any author who would like to share a small glimpse of their work-in-progress. Plan for about 15 minutes of time in the proverbial “chair”. There is power in sharing what you know, even if you deem it a work-in-progress. We will take a bit of time to offer feedback to the writer after each reading. Please understand that this is not a requirement, but I am encouraging each of you to be brave. This is most certainly a kind and trustworthy group to share work with. I hope that by the close of the retreat next week, every writer will have at least one author’s chair reading experience.

Don’t forget to write your reflective blog post to wrap up Week 1 of our Retreat. …..and then it is time to start the weekend!

Tool of the Day:


Day 3, Building Momentum

Momentum is a vector quantity and has both magnitude and direction. Isaac Newton’s second law of motion states that the time rate of change of momentum is equal to the force acting on the particle. Building momentum requires a lot of upfront push to get the ball rolling, but eventually things start moving along…. I hope you have felt the proverbial push, and hopefully, you are now picking up some pacing and flow with your writing project.

#Writreat tweets:

Daily agenda

Listed below is the agenda for Day 3 of the Writer’s Retreat. 

Morning Session:

June 23, 2021: This morning I saw the early morning trace of a sea turtle’s labor last night. Loggerhead turtle tracks as they haul themselves up to the beach to lay their eggs under the moonlight.

We will get started at 9 am. In part 1 of our day, I will make some announcements, and go over the schedule for the day and offer up some shout outs regarding your reflective blogs. We will also have our “Write into the Day” exercise and chance to see Sun and consider the next Tool for the Day. As per our rhythm, you will end the morning period with a writerly walk.

Write Into the Day

Lunch Break

12:00-1:00 PM: It is break time

(….fill’er up!).

See you after some eats ;).

Afternoon Session:

We start again at 1 PM. Your afternoon session includes conferencing for Group 3 and Group 4. For the other groups, it will be good to check in with each other in zoom at 1pm to see if you need a revision support, and then take the independent time to write.

As always, don’t forget to write your next reflective blog post about your progress and process today. …..Day 3 done! And don’t forget your daily tweet for the day!

Tools for the Day:

The De-Jargonizer

Google Trends

Portent Idea Generator

DAY 2, Finding Our footing

We are off to a great start, and today we will work towards building some pacing and momentum together.

A glimpse at some of our early #Writreat tweets:

Daily agenda

Listed below is the agenda for Day 2 of the Writer’s Retreat:

Morning Session:

Our morning together for Day 2 of the #writreat begins with our synchronous time in our Zoom Room. I look forward to some more “warm up” ways to grow our connections with each other, and we will view a powerful TED talk together to inaugurate the courage that is intimately connected to powerful writing:

Writing Into the Day

Early morning Tuesday, June 22: a windy start to the day. Perhaps a metaphor for our writing today…building momentum.

After you complete the Write Into the Day prompts, you will take another writer’s walk and prepare for an afternoon of writing (or conferencing with me, depending on your group assignment). Now is the time to really focus and push your ideas and ambitions for this structured time. For some of you this means narrowing focus by exploratory or free writing, outlining and mapping concepts, noticing where the further research will be needed in order to pursue the work you want to complete.

I will be available (office hours) from 11:30 am – 12 noon in our zoom room.

Lunch Break

12:00-1:00 PM: LUNCH TIME!

Refuel and replenish. See you after the break!

Afternoon Session:

We start again at 1 PM. Your afternoon session for Day 1 includes conferencing for Group 1 and Group 2 only (in timed succession). Everyone should enter into our Zoom room at 1pm, even though some of you will have independent writing time.

Don’t forget to write your next reflective blog post and remember your tweet-for-the-day by 5pm!

Tool of the Day:

Cliche Finder:

The Most Dangerous Writing App:

Sun’s Google Docs tutorial:

Bonus! (Thanks Tom): Cloud Notebook (Rocket Book Everlast)

Welcome to the 2021 #writreat!

Welcome everyone to the 2021 Writer’s Retreat. This summer will be our second annual “virtual version” of this special experience (courtesy of the unforeseen global pandemic). As you are all well aware, COVID-19 has upended many of our traditional procedures in teaching and learning contexts, introducing us all to new ways to do what we do. I am very happy to have you all here for the next two weeks for this meaningful gathering. Despite the fact that we are online again, we will grow together in a spirit of connection and community. This year, there are twelve of you embarking on this retreat together. Each of you is talented in particular ways, and will bring a unique outlook to this time we have together. And each of you will leave this retreat with renewed energy and vision, and a sense of yourselves as authentic writers. I look forward to supporting you all on your writing journey and learning new things along the way.

Agenda for Day 1:

Morning Session:

We will meet in a LIVE SESSION to kick-off the day. I have sent the Zoom link to your Kean e-mail.

To start off the #writreat, I would like to help all of us get to know each other a little. We will spend a little time getting connecting and chatting a bit. After introductions, we will cover the basics for the course. Our daily agenda and procedures, the schedule for the day, how to set up and understand the rhythms of our work together, etc. We will also discuss a bit about connected learning, and we will have plenty of time for your questions, etc. By the close of the morning time, We will have completed a “walk through” of the overall Retreat procedures. 

Writing Into the Day

At around 11 AM, we will turn to the Writing into the Day exercise. The Writing Into the Day exercise will be a daily prompt as you gather your initial ideas, and it will help you center and focus your attention as we get to work each day.

First walk of the retreat. Early morning on June 21, 2021.

You will also start the Writer’s Retreat with a walk, as this simple act can help you be more creative. It is important to vary your approach and rhythm when you are working on a creative project.  Walking can energize you and helps one work through issues and ideas. In addition to these activities in the first part of the day, you will also be tweeting a bit by the close of each day, so always remember to use our hashtag #writreat so we can connect and grow a sense of our time spent together.

Lunch Break

Every day you will have a LUNCH BREAK from 12:00 noon until 1 pm. 

Refuel and relax during the break. After lunch, we will proceed with our afternoon session. 

Afternoon Session:

We start again at 1 PM. Your afternoon session for Day 1 includes an hour and a half writing period (offline, independent work) focused on the refinement of goals for your own retreat writing project.  Please work identify concrete goals, and setting up a timeline for your retreat project.

In the last 30 minutes of our day (from 2:30 PM until 3:00 PM), you should compose and publish your first reflective blog post about the retreat (which will be automatically syndicated into this course website under the “Daily Reflections” tab). You will write about your early impressions of the Retreat, your ideas for your project, and any reflective comments/thoughts emerging from Day 1.

Tool of the Day:

In addition to the agenda each day, the “Tool of the Day” will be featured in this daily post as well. We hope to introduce you all to a new digital tool each day that will help you with writing in our increasingly digital landscape. Current MA grad student Sun will roll out our tool for the day each day, and by the close of the retreat, hopefully you will have some new “go toe” for tools you can use to develop your writing further. The “Tool of the Day” activities are designed to help you develop multimodal skills that may help you when trying to bring a composition “to life” on a digital platform.

Tool for the Day: Hemingway Editor

Welcome to the 2021 Writer’s Retreat!

Welcome to the 2021 Writer’s Retreat!  The Writer’s Retreat is an eight-day intensive summer writing course sponsored by the Kean University Writing Project and the Kean University MA in English-Writing Studies program.  It is amazing to think that we are in the second pandemic summer since COVID-19 hit. We continue to exercise public health caution, even as we ramp up the vaccinations in time for a Fall 2021 return to Kean University’s campus. Our virtual writer’s retreat is scheduled to run from June 21st through July 1st.  We will be working together for these two weeks each day from 9 am until 3 pm, from Monday through Thursday (Fridays and weekends are “off”, and we have our lunch break each day from 12 noon-1 pm).  

Our Writer’s Retreat is a special time set aside for writers to refuel and recuperate imaginative inspiration.  This stressful and challenging year has given us many reasons to reflect and find renewal through writing. Often people think of a retreat as a spiritual undertaking. A facilitated writing retreat often ends up being something of a journey.  It can be an opening of the interior self, allowing one to discover both cluttered and empty inner spaces. All writers, whether established or just beginning, know what it’s like to feel disconnected from creativity.  A retreat is an important opportunity to develop your confidence as a writer. Our work together will sometimes consist of synchronous meetings and live discussions, and at other times it will consist of focused stretches of independent work.  Please understand that this means that you should not have any other activities in conflict with this block of time (9 am – 3 pm, Monday-Thursday, June 21-July 1).  In order for the retreat to be transformative, you must dedicate this time to focused devotion on your writing work.

Retreats are self-designed in the sense that participants should prepare for the start of their retreat, by making concrete goals for themselves.  You can bring into the Writer’s Retreat any “writing project” (i.e. this could be research work, professional writing work, or creative work) and you will receive support in developing the work in this short but intensive period of time.  In the next week leading up to the start of our journey together, please reflect on what writing project you would like to focus on during our retreat time.

Peer support and feedback at the Kean University Writing Studies Program

Pre-pandemic, our retreat was a face-to-face experience in varying locations throughout Kean University’s (Union, NJ) campus.  Writing time was conducted in special seminar rooms and in our Liberty Hall gardens and library.  But the pandemic has refined our sense of how to build a powerful sense of community. The 2021 virtual writer’s retreat is carefully designed as a dynamic experience, emphasizing connected learning, and networked and open collaboration. The Writer’s Retreat will be conducted online on this course website:  **Please bookmark this website because it will serve as a home base for all of our work together.  All instructions (for where to go at any given time) will be found on the course website.   

Writing in the Liberty Hall gardens of Kean University

In order to be prepared for this year’s Writer’sRetreat starting on Monday, June 21st at 9am, you will need to complete a few tasks beforehand so we can make the most of our time together:

  • Setting up your writing space. Please identify and/or create a dedicated space for your writing for this Writer’s Retreat.  You need to be able to work and concentrate uninterrupted as much as possible, so try to set up a special corner/small space for yourself to proceed for the next two weeks.  Think about privacy, lighting, resources (computer and wi-fi), etc.  For many of you, this might also mean having a chat with family members about this undertaking, so that they understand that you are “in class” for this two-week stretch, and not “available” for certain stretches of time.  I know this might be challenging for some (I sincerely understand), so do your best with this in order to make the most of our time together.
  • Setting up your blog.  Please create a free WordPress blog.  At the close of each retreat day, you will be writing a reflective blog post that captures your writing and learning process for the day.  Please send me the URL (web address) for your WordPress blog HERE by Saturday, June 19. I will feed your individual blog sites into our course website, so you will all be able to access and read everyone’s daily blog posts on the course website under the tab “Daily Reflections“.
  • Setting up your Twitter account. Please create a twitter account and get ready to tweet!  This account will be used professionally and you are welcome to use an avatar for the purposes of the course.  We will use the #writreat hashtag to grow our connections and share glimpses into our individual writing processes.  I will explain more about this networked aspect of the course on our first day together.
  • Planning some local “writing walks”. Walking helps us think. There will be times when you need to get up and move in order to promote new connections and free up your mind, so you can see something anew.  I will build in writing stretches that might include walk and think activities. Please consider small strolls within your neighborhood, and what small walks you might take at certain points in the day to revitalize your writing mind.

Each retreat takes on its own kind of “chemistry” and is memorable in a particular way. All of you have special talents and unique perspective, and I am confident that our time together will bring a surge of creativity and new writing focus. I look forward to our journey together soon!


Dr. Zamora