It’s 1st November and AcWriMo has officially begun. AcWriMo, or ‘Academic Writing Month’ stems from NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, in which aspiring writers try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, or 1667 words a day. Rather than aiming to produce a novel, however, AcWriMo converts NaNoWriMo to an academic context and aims to get academics WRITING. You can read more about it here.
So how does this work?
It has some simple steps.
1. Set your goals. And plan a strategy for doing them.
2. Get writing. Knowing that others are doing the same – follow them on twitter #acwrimo, etc.
3. Share your results.
A fairly simple process, right? And it works like a daily version of ‘shut up and write’ or a communal ‘write or die’ to maximise productivity. So here we go….
I’ve had a very heavy 6 weeks of the first half the semester: I’ve written my first chapter for my thesis (in a very rough very tentative draft form). The result of this has been a 38,000(ish) word document, which I handed to my supervisors yesterday… dum dum dum! Producing this in 6 weeks has been a hard graft. But I had ideas, I’d done background work (which I’d written up, making finding references and arguments much easier, I can’t stress this enough!), and I knew where I was going. With this in mind, I aimed to write 1,000 words a day (every week day, weekends are for me). And I, largely, stuck to this. Having done this, however, unfortunately means that I’m at a sort of a limbo stage where I’ve come to a slight break: I’m waiting for feedback, I need to do more reading to extent and support the ideas in this chapter, and (and this is the most frustrating!) I want to get on to my next chapter. This all means that I don’t have an overarching chapter to put my daily writing in to…. but actually, that’s kind of perfect. This means that I can use AcWriMo for the hardest part of keeping writing and writing every day – the part where you don’t have ideas to get out yet…. It also gives me time to focus on other writing tasks. So here are my goals:
1. Start blogging. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while but haven’t for a number of reasons, including time, embarrassment, and just sitting down and getting on with it. This month I want to blog all the ideas for posts I’ve had over the past few months as well as writing about, well, writing.
2. Academic CV. This sounds like quite a small project. And it probably is. But I’m awful at keeping track of the things I’m doing and have done and I’ve been meaning to get together a good Academic CV over the past 6 months.
3. WiSPs Conference Paper. My next conference is later this month and the abstract extends somewhat the ideas I’ve already sorted out in my head through my previous work. So I’d better get on with this…
4. Reflect on the chapter I have done. Think about the process, the work, the ideas, and how these can be improved.
and…. 5? An article for publication?? I’m a 2nd year PhD student. I want to go in to academia. Therefore, I need to publish something. This fact has been weighing on my mind for some time and it’s about time I did something about it. I’m not going to set myself the aim of writing an article. But I want to use AcWriMo to make a plan and outline for an article. (I can then use the good habits I develop to write this during the Christmas holidays? haha).
So these are my goals, around teaching and planning lessons, dealing with a personal life, and managing other commitments. It’s reading week at the moment, so I’ve got a reasonably free schedule, but I’ll soon be in to week 7 and be running around everywhere, as per usual. My plan is to divide the writing of the day in to steps: (1) Sorting phase 1 (dealing with others) email checking & replying / admin (2) writing phase 1 (personal writing) 30 minutes-1 hr writing posts, small tasks, writing lesson plans, etc. (3) Sorting phase 2 (dealing with ideas) Gathering ideas and setting them down. (4) Writing phase 2. Formal writing. (5) Editing.
This idea is that these steps can be slotting in around the other things I have to do, such as meetings, teaching, dinner with friends, and, of course, doing horrible sorting out rubbish like paying bills and dealing with council tax…. We’ll see how it goes.