Episode #110

The Power of Writing Retreats with Dr. Michelle Boyd

Have you ever wondered if a writing retreat is worth the investment? And how do writing retreats impact your overall writing practice?


Today, we are talking about the power of writing retreats. We have a heartfelt interview with Dr. Michelle Boyd, an award winning researcher and writer. Dr. Boyd received tenure at University of Chicago, and later found a true love in offering writing retreats for academics. She concentrates on helping writers overcome their fear of writing and to become the writer that they already are.  


Key points discussed:

  • How she got started offering writing retreats to academics 
  • What she sees the role of writing retreats in a larger writing practice 
  • What she thinks draws people to retreats 
  • How has Covid taken a toll on the inability to get together for retreats 
  • The idea of getting past writing fear and anxiety
  • Info about her retreats


Key Quotes:

“I was really interested in the writing process, and the craft of writing.”

“It got to the point that I was annoyed that I had to do my regular university job.”

“Retreats give you time to really sink into the work.”

“There are so many ways where we stop trusting ourselves after graduate school.”

“People believe the real problem is time, and if they just had the time, they would finish.”

“Everything had to get renegotiated, re-understood, and recreated in order to make writing easier for you rather than harder.”

“There is no better way to improve your online teaching than to be teaching a bunch of teachers.”

“The academic evaluation process… actually undermines the ability of writers to do the things we need to do.”

“We internalize the fear and uncertainty that is created by the risky situation that we’re in… we internalize that as our fault.”

“When you come together with other folks who are struggling with the same thing people finally see for themselves… you are not alone and this is not your fault.”

About Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd, PhD is an academic writing coach, an award-winning scholar, and a former tenured Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). Michelle has received many honors for her interdisciplinary, ethnographic research, which examines the political significance of racial identity for urban African Americans. Most recently, she won a Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association for her book Jim Crow Nostalgia: Reconstructing Race in Bronzeville.

Since earning tenure at UIC, Michelle has focused her research and service on supporting scholars’ writing process and productivity. In 2012 she co founded and began coaching UIC’s popular and always wait-listed “WriteOut! Dissertation Writing Retreat.” She specializes in helping high-anxiety writers who cannot find the time, motivation, or courage to begin or sustain their work. Michelle is currently at work on a book entitled “Becoming the Writer You Already Are: How Academics Can Discover their Writing Process.”

Inkwell Retreats Website

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