Sick of that paper/chapter/review never getting past nearly done?
Get it off your plate and into somebody else’s court. Then have a great weekend.
How does it work?
- You decide which project is most important for you to finish soon. (I can advise if you’re not sure.)
- You use the shared group sprint planning and tracking diary to map out what needs doing to get you from here to completion.
- We iron out any problems or uncertainties in the task breakdown, your mindset and purpose, and anything else standing in the way of you feeling ready and excited to get (re)started (and get finished).
- We prepare for our writing sessions, physically and mentally, including with precise goal-setting, and harness the power of collective focus to use our time together to get your project moving at a sprint-like pace.
- You practise reviewing your progress, updating our shared sprint diary, and adjusting your task-specific plans if needed, so your overall plan remains a meaningful guide.
- We pre-empt scheduling challenges for the week, and you make plans with your assigned event partner to help each other stay on track.
- You tell the recipient of your completed piece to expect to receive it by the end of Friday—and make plans for once it’s gone!
- We use tailored pre-writing activities to help you gear up to write effectively and efficiently—with a very low risk of spraining that ankle.
- As well as helping you use it effectively during our sessions, I check on the sprint diary at intervals throughout the week between sessions, offering suggestions where I think they might help, and sharing tips and reminders to help you keep up the pace.
- You benefit this specific project (by finally getting it finished) and also your wider writing practice—by learning how to get things finished, whatever strategies and habits turn out to be crucial for you in making the difference between inefficiency and procrastination versus getting it done. Thus, you can use this event as a springboard for a decisive summer’s writing.
When and where is it?
This sprint will be held in the beautiful Harold Lee Room at Pembroke College, Oxford, between Monday 20 and Friday 24 June 2022.
There are 3 group sessions: Monday 9 to 1, Wednesday 2 to 5, and Friday 2-5.
There will also be optional buy-your-own post-sprint drinks round the corner at The Alchemist (probably my favourite Oxford cocktail bar) from 5-7 on Friday, if you’d like the chance to unwind with your fellow sprinters straight after we finish. I’ll ask you during the week to confirm whether you’ll be joining for this, so I can book a table if needed.
- Q: Do I need to start and finish a project within a week? It can feel satisfying to do it this way, with a smallish project like a book review, conference paper, grant proposal, or blog post. But you can also bring a larger work-in-progress like a journal article or thesis chapter. It’s up to you to select what will be most useful to you. (But I’m happy to advise if you can’t choose.) The only crucial thing is that you can finish it by end of Friday!
- Q: Who can take part? Anyone! That said, the focus will be on academic writing, so if you’re working with a different genre you may want to discuss with me in advance whether the kinds of planning and execution we’ll be practising are relevant to it.
- Q: How many other people will there be? Numbers are capped at 12 to ensure the room feels spacious and to make sure I can give you enough individual attention to help everyone succeed.
- Q: How do you allocate event partners? Via a subtle half-art half-science blend of project, purpose, personality, and demographic factors, plus gut instinct. I have a lot of experience in matching up long-term writing partners, and I apply that learning to creating these week-long versions to help you both.
- Q: What happens once I book? You’ll receive a booking confirmation with a link to a pre-course survey. The week before the sprint starts you’ll receive full joining instructions.
- Q: Do I need to do anything beforehand? As well as completing a short pre-event survey, it helps if you can set aside some time the week before to do a bit of planning for the week and your chosen project. I’ll share full instructions on the most efficient way to do so, but this preparatory work is optional.
- Q: What if I can’t make all the sessions, can I still sign up? I ask you to please not book onto this event unless you can commit to attending all three sessions in full. You’re unlikely to benefit much from it if you don’t, and any absences will also be disruptive for your event partner and other participants. If you arrive late or don’t attend any of the sessions, and don’t let me know in advance, you typically won’t be able to book onto any events I run in future.
- Q: What about if I need to cancel completely? I don’t offer refunds after booking. The only exception is in the unlikely event that I am unable to run the event as advertised, in which case of course you receive a full refund and first refusal for a place on the next event I run. I encourage you to do all you can to show up for this event and make the most of it.
- Q: Why so inflexible? I have a lot of experience running writing events, and all my experience tells me that too much flexibility benefits no one. You know that little part of you that thinks it doesn’t matter whether you stick to your plans or follow through on your commitments or turn up 10 minutes late? That part of you (and me) loves believing that no one else cares, and that no one suffers as a result—ourselves or anyone else. A certain level of strictness in these events makes it impossible for that part of you to thrive—and that tends to work out very well for you, for your writing, and for everyone else taking part, even if it’s uncomfortable at first.
- Q: Can I read more on the principles you use to design this event? Of course. Indeed, I ask you to familiarize yourself with these before you book, just so we know we’re on the same page. You can find more details in my outline of why I run these events the way I do, here.
- Q: What happens if I don’t finish? If you don’t get to your definition of finished with this project by the end of Friday, I will have failed as your sprinting coach. I will do everything I reasonably can to help you finish—and help myself avoid that nasty feeling of failure. That may sometimes mean downscaling your ambitions for the project, but usually substantial changes aren’t needed. Knowing that you really mean business and that other people have your back can make an amazing amount of difference. Success rates are over 95%, and I intend to keep them that way!
- Q: What if I need more help? If you find that the standard level of support provided in the sprint week isn’t enough to get things working really well for you and this piece of writing, or you know in advance that you’d like to maximize the benefits of taking part, you can book a 1-1 writing consultation with me, to take place in the week of the sprint or the week before or after. This is a 30-minute Zoom consult plus an email summary of what we covered and agreed—for example, the main obstacles we identified as lying between you and achieving your writing goals with joy, and the solutions we generated for overcoming them. I don’t offer this type of short consult other than as an event add-on, but you can book it any time up to a week after the sprint ends. You should decide when it would be most useful to you to have it. The cost is £100 if you book during or after the sprint, or £75 if you book beforehand.
- Q: Do you sprint with us? Yep! This is one reason I love running these events: I get so much of my own writing done. For the sprint format, I often choose a medium-sized project I’ve been procrastinating on—anything from a blog post to a course outline or some daunting paper revisions. I always learn new things about how to actually get writing done efficiently and with some pleasure along the way, and enjoy my weekend afterwards.
How much does it cost?
The fee for the full 5-day sprint is £100.
- Your pre-sprint assessment survey to help you articulate your goals and me understand them
- The 3 group sessions (10 hours total), including tea, coffee, and biscuits plus use of other props to enhance your experience
- An event partner allocated to you based on your goals, to arrange mutual out-of-session writing support with
- Access to all the sprint resources for the week, with take-home copies for you to use again
- Emails from me between sessions to help you sustain commitment and carve out time throughout the week
- A post-sprint round-up email drawing together learnings from the group and offering a template for running personal writing sprints in future
If you have access to a research allowance or other funds, you may well be able to use them to pay for this event. Let me know if you need a receipt containing any specific details.
Ready to book?
Book your place on this writing sprint (Pembroke College, 20-24 June 2022)
(By booking, you confirm that you have read and agree to the event principles and pragmatics set out here.)
Add on a 30-minute writing consult (once you’ve paid you’ll be sent a Calendly link to book your preferred slot)
Do reach out if you have any questions at all.
I’m excited to find out what your sprint project will be and help you finally get it ticked off your to-do list—and to know what your weekend plans will be for once it’s done!