Academics are expected to write for publication and meet publication targets in research assessment processes. These targets are set by national bodies and institutions, and they can be daunting for academics at the start of a research career. This article reports on an intervention designed to address this issue, writer’s retreat, where academics simultaneously engaged with research assessment and developed writing projects. Using Gardner’s model of researcher development, an evaluation study showed that retreat participants quickly adopted the programmatic element, made some progress in the relational element, but made little or no progress with the personal element. This analysis shows that the structured, facilitated writer’s retreat is an effective method of researcher development, and points to specific areas where development did and did not occur. It shows that this new retreat format allows emerging researchers to negotiate their relationship with research assessment through writing, but it also identifies areas where further support is needed.