November is coming. Everybody writes.
Academic Writing Month, or AcWriMo, is nearly upon us. AcWriMo is a month devoted to academic writing or other academic work. For one month, you set challenging (but achievable) targets, declare them, and report on your progress. You can see more about more AcWriMo here
The most obvious reason that AcWriMo is so tempting is the idea of getting a large chunk of work done in one month. If you set yourself the challenge of writing 1000 words a day, think how much you could have done by the time December draws near? Because you only need to keep this faster pace up for one month, it’s easier to stick to than planning to write write write forever. The idea of being able to return to your usual pace in December, satisfied with your progress, is very appealing.
But there are other benefits to AcWriMo, beyond what you can achieve in terms of “work done”.
1. You can become immersed in a supportive, online community
There’s a big Twitter community doing AcWriMo, and it’s lovely to feel like you’re a part of it. For me, it’s particularly important in a process like academic writing. I set out to do research because of a desire to contribute to, and connect with, the world and the people in it. Typing alone for hours each day isn’t quite the tangible oneness that I had sought. The online community is a real boost – you can become part of it on Twitter by using the hashtag #acwrimo in your tweets and by keeping an eye on the #acwrimo hashtag and the @PhD2Published account.
2. You can learn a lot about when and where you prefer to work
When do you write best? Where do you write best? Personally, I do my best work in the early morning, before the day has really started. My strong dislike of getting up in the mornings had prevented me from discovering this until a year or two ago. Then I tried getting up early to work and found it a revelation.
As for location, I work well in cafes, or on my sofa at home. I like to either be alone or in a relatively casual environment. Computer labs don’t work so well for me; I’m in a permanent state of tension at the idea of disturbing someone and potentially being reprimanded.
Knowing what works best for you is incredibly important. Give me an hour or two in the early morning in a cafe or on my sofa and I will get more done than I would in five hours in a computer lab in the afternoon. Harnessing this knowledge can help you to be more productive and to have more time for yourself.
3. You can develop excellent task management skills
I am a very enthusiastic advocate of developing good task management habits. It’s easy to feel like you’re not really getting anywhere with academic work, even when you’re achieving quite a lot. Planning and reviewing your tasks can be a great way to battle that feeling. If you’d like to read more about this, I’ve written three posts on how to identify, schedule, and review your tasks. Devoting a whole month to your academic work gives you a great opportunity to practice and develop these skills.
What are your top tips for AcWriMo? I’d love to hear about them in the comments…