I am a one day late in posting this but starting yesterday was the start of Academic Writing Month, or AcWriMo. The idea is based on National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, but is not as intense as writing an academic book in a month. Instead, the basis of AcWriMo is to make a writing goal and stick to it. If you know anything about academics and writing, then you know that goals can be a flexible concept, especially if the goal is a deadline. The point of the month is not to torture writers but to get them to develop better habits when writing and make them what they are actually capable of doing. What does it take to write a certain number of words per day? How much time does it really take to write a journal article or a grant application?
Here are the six rules you need to follow if you want to join in, set out by PhD2Published who are the centreal the hub for AcWriMo.:
1. Decide on your goal. You might count words, hours put in or projects achieved – it’s up to you. But try and push yourself a bit.
2. Declare it! Basically, just sign up on the AcWriMo 2013 Writing Accountability Spreadsheet and fill in the sections on what you’d like to achieve by the end of the month. Being accountable is key to this working for you. You need to feel a bit of pressure to get the work done. So sign up and add your goals as soon as you can.
3. Draft a strategy. Don’t start AcWriMo without doing a bit of planning and preparation. Get some reading done, carve out time slots in your schedule to dedicate to writing, even buy your favourite coffee. Sort out whatever you’ll need to write, and get it done now, there won’t be time when November comes around.
4. Discuss your progress. OK so being on Twitter and Facebook with us all day isn’t acceptable – you’ve got work to do – but checking-in at certain times is really important! We want to know how you’re getting on? What is working for you and what isn’t? Do you need help? Do you want to share a writing triumph? (You’ll find most discussion about AcWriMo on Twitter using the #AcWriMo hashtag, but if Facebook is more your thing, go there. Or use your own blog to keep in touch. You can even write little updates you want to share in the spreadsheet.)
5. Don’t slack off. As participant Bettina said of the first AcWriMo, you must ‘write like there’s no December!’ If you push yourself, you’ll quickly discover the tips and techniques that work best for YOU and that’ll save you even more time in the long-run.
6. Declare your results. It’s great to use the spreadsheet everyday (or as often as you can) to chart how you’re getting on, but even if you can’t do that, you MUST announce your results at the end of the month. Our writing community benefits not only from sharing in your achievements, but knowing what didn’t work and being reminded that, at the end of the day, we’re all human!
I would add a seventh rule: HAVE FUN! Writing should be an enjoyable activity. If you want to be doing this for the rest of your life, then it would be better for you to enjoy the process. Yes you will get frustrated. I do. But you can’t let a small speed bump (which it is) get you down. Just keep writing.
You can find all the information for AcWriMo you need here on PhD2Published’s site. They also have a lot of other good posts on writing geared towards PhD students and newly-minted academics.
I will be declaring my goals in my next post, which will include what I did yesterday on Day 1.
Get writing and have fun doing it!