Types of targets for AcWriMo 2013

It’s getting cold outside, the leaves are beginning to turn red and fall from the trees, which means it’s almost that time of year again – November, Academic Writing Month (or acwrimo).

Last year was my first experience of acwrimo, and I loved it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, acwrimo is one month where writing is made a priority. Targets are set and declared, and progress is reported. For more information, have a look at PhD2Published’s post, or at the #acwri live Twitter chat from last week on the subject, hosted by me (@ellenspaeth) and @pelf81.

But what are those targets? In trying to decide what targets to set myself for acwrimo 2013, I’ve decided to recap the possibilities in a post.

Initially, the challenge of AcWriMo was to write 50,000 words within that month (for more information on this, see Anna Tarrant’s piece in the Guardian). But since then, the emphasis has moved to setting whatever targets seem right for you. These targets tend to fall into three categories:

  1. Wordcount-based
  2. Time-based (e.g. a certain number of pomodoros)
  3. Output-based (e.g. an article finished, a thesis chapter written)

It’s possible to combine target types by setting both monthly and daily targets. For example, you could set an output-based target as your monthly goal, and a wordcount-based or time-based target as your daily goal.

Personally, I’d highly recommend this type of combination. The monthly target will give a big-picture view of the work you’re doing, and the daily target will keep that sense of achievement ticking over. As I’ve discussed (at length), breaking down larger goals into smaller chunks is an excellent way to stay motivated.

Sidebar: When I talk about “daily” targets, I’m not suggesting that you need to work every day during acwrimo. Set goals that are achievable without putting your health in danger – it’s important to take regular breaks.

Last year I set purely wordcount-based targets – 1000 words of freewriting, 5 days a week. This year is less easy – I’m currently working on my literature review, which is less easy to tame into predictable wordcount-based chunks. I’m currently leaning towards setting time-based targets, such as a certain number of pomodoros. The challenge, now, is to consider how many pomodoros is achievable…

Are you taking part in Academic Writing Month this year? Have you set your targets? If so, have you declared them on @mystudiouslife‘s accountability spreadsheet? Are they wordcount-based, time-based, or output-based? Or have you chosen a different type of target that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear about your AcWriMo plans in the comments.

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