November is Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo)

Posted on Oct 30, 2013 in Everyday Life, Research Methodologies

I’m allergic to joining clubs or movements, and loathe academic productivity imperatives, but I’ve just finished the year’s teaching and have this problem:

A Million Thoughts by Marc Johns

So I’ve decided to find my own way of participating in Academic Writing Month 2013.

First of all, I’ve got some fieldwork to do in November, and since that will continue until teaching starts again in March, I’d really like to establish a sustainable writing routine for the summer. I’ve got some creative writing that needs to be finished in the next couple of weeks, and some journal writing that needs to be sent to peer review by February. I’ve also got a research proposal to draft.

Obviously I can’t get all the journal and proposal writing done in November, but I can definitely get it started. In #AcWriMo-speak that leads me to:

Goal 1: Establish summer writing routine

Goal 2: Edit two short stories

Goal 3: Write one short story

Goal 4: Prepare full draft of one academic article

Goal 5: Draft research project aims, objectives & outcomes

I figure that the first goal is actually the hardest – and most important – for me. I want to block off three hours each weekday morning for writing, making exceptions only when unavoidable. (I also figure this will still allow me to get in at least one hour of academic reading each day!) This schedule could never happen during teaching, so I’ve got fingers (and toes!) crossed I can make it work now. Of course I’m a bit nervous that I’m out of practice and this will feel like going to the gym after holidays: a special kind of torture. So to help me out, I’ll also be participating in weekly Shut Up and Write sessions that my lovely colleagues have organised.

The second and third goals involve creative writing, which I find requires a substantially different mind-set than academic writing even though it’s part of my research. I’ve decided to focus on this first because it has a hard deadline and is mostly done already, and because getting it done should make room in my brain for more traditional academic writing.

The fourth goal is going to test Inger Mewburn’s strategy for How To Write A Journal Article in Seven Days. (I’m actually pretty excited about this task!) And the fifth goal mostly involves getting some thoughts out of my head and onto paper in some sort of structure that is intelligible to others. I’ll need their feedback before I write up the full proposal, and this seems a useful way to start.

With all my goals sorted, I’m left with the “accountability problem.” I can’t bring myself to officially sign up for the month – audit culture saddens me – but I think I can manage weekly #AcWriMo reports on Twitter. And who knows? I might write something here at some point too.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care if I succeed in all these goals. I know I won’t miss my creative writing deadlines, and the rest will work itself out eventually. Using the month to find a new work rhythm is all I really want, and if this helps in any way I’ll be happy.

Let's Go by Marc Johns