Links: Academic Writing Month

Yesterday was the first day of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo), a month dedicated to academic productivity and public accountability. The full ‘rules’ can be found at the PhD2Published site, but here’s the short version: Aim high, tell everyone, be strategic, check in, work hard. Even if you don’t have the flexibility to devote the whole month to writing, this approach is inspiring for its can-do spirit and its commitment to making academic writing less lonely. If you need convincing, The Thesis Whisperer has a great post about why AcWriMo is a better idea than you might initially think. In a similar vein, Anna Tarrant has an interesting piece in The Guardian’s Higher Education Network blog on the way that an initiative like this can create a much-needed social space for a sustainable approach to academic writing.

I didn’t participate in this project last year. In part, I made that decision because it was explicitly geared towards writing an academic book (it was actually called AcBoWriMo), something that I was mercifully not trying to do. More generally, I was also aware that I didn’t need that sort of productivity burst. There have definitely been times in my life—during some parts of the dissertation writing process, for instance—when it would have been very helpful for me to alter my life to achieve drastic writing goals. At this point, however, I need a more systematic approach. I definitely want to be more productive and consistent as a writer, so I am approaching AcWriMo as an experiment: what can I do to give writing the prominence in my work life that I so wish it had?

My goals will thus be of two sorts. In the first place, I have set some targets for myself: Five blog posts (which is the number I would have tried to write this month anyway) and a draft of an article (which will grow out of a conference presentation, so I am not starting from scratch). Prompted by the AcWriMo spreadsheet, I have set a target of an hour of writing a day, five days a week (the numbering may shift, but I am currently number 234 in the Academic Writing Accountability spreadsheet). My second goal will be to understand how participation in this project affects me. Should I have set a word count instead of making a time commitment? Should I have aimed higher or lower? Will social media accountability be helpful? I look forward to reflecting on these questions in early December.

But those questions are just about me and my own productivity challenges. The truly interesting thing about AcWriMo is the notion of people around the world engaging in academic writing ‘out loud’. What can be so inward becomes a bit more outward, which means that the usual frustrations can be a matter of public acknowledgement rather than private self-castigation. The shared sense of the intrinsic pain of writing—and I say that as someone who loves to write—can be a source of humour and encouragement. The #AcWriMo hashtag is already inspiring, funny, and enlightening: small triumphs, inevitable setbacks, lots of jokes, and a myriad of approaches from which to learn. I will be updating my progress here and on Twitter (@explorstyle)—I hope you’ll follow along.

Recent links from @explorstyle on Twitter

From @SDMumford, a call to study what you love (in his case, philosophy).

From @DrJeremySegrott, thoughtful reflections on a year spent using Twitter for academic purposes.

From @Margin_Notes, a great post on the research into the role of teaching in tenure decisions.

From @ThomsonPat, an interesting discussion of different types of post-experience reflection.

From @cplong, a Storify version of his experience live tweeting his own talk on Plato.

It may not be the most influential of his 40+ books, but Barzun’s Simple and Direct is one of my favourite books on writing.

From @ThomsonPat, a great response to the writing too early question: Writing the thesis from day one is risky.

From @readywriting, interesting reflections on different types of academic blogs: Profiling the academic blogosphere.

From Inside Higher Ed, an honest account of being miserable in graduate school and deciding whether or not to finish.

I love this! Lucy Ferriss (in Lingua Franca) argues that ‘this’ sometimes needs more than just a referent.

From @byagoda in the NYT Draft blog, a delightful endorsement of the em-dash for its versatility and its vitality.

9 responses to “Links: Academic Writing Month

  1. Participating in AcWriMo is very tempting, but is it really meant to be pronounced like a short form for “acrimony”?
    ac·ri·mo·ny/ˈakrəˌmōnē/
    Noun:Bitterness or ill feeling.
    Synonyms: acridity – acerbity – pungency – poignancy – bitterness

    Notwithstanding that frightening possibility, AcWriMo might be just what I need right now.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • I believe that is exactly how it is pronounced (I actually mentioned that possible concern on Twitter yesterday!). The other troubling resonance might be ‘lachrymose’–but I think you should risk it, Paul. Keep me posted!

  2. Heather Fitzgerald

    I considered taking part when I saw the post from the Thesis Whisperer but automatically dismissed my participation because the writing I need to do (student handouts for a Writing Centre) doesn’t seem very academic. Your goal of writing blog posts made me realize how narrow my definition of academic writing was/is. So thanks… I’m hoping it might help me carve out and protect one small hour a day for writing.

    • Good to see you on the spreadsheet, Heather–I hope you can manage your ‘one small hour’!

    • I had a similar thought about my own work, because it’s “just” for my part-time grad program that I do on top of my regular job. I have also set a time goal (3 pomodoros/25 minutes each) and have found that I’m getting work done on a long class paper a lot sooner than I usually would in the semester time frame. It’s quite exciting. But I did have to get over the idea that my work isn’t “academic” in the sense that I’m not working on a thesis or writing articles like many of the other participants.

  3. Pingback: Links: Academic Writing Month | International Literacy Management | Scoop.it

  4. Pingback: Links: Academic Writing Month | academic hipster | Scoop.it

  5. Pingback: Links: Academic Writing Month | AcWriMo | Scoop.it

  6. A great initiative for academic writing lovers

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