So today I happened across #AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month), which is a writing challenge for academics to write every day in November. This intrigued me for two main reasons: 1. I have a lot to write in November anyway and 2. I need to develop better habits for writing.
To focus on the latter for a moment, I know from Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work that if you do something for 21 days straight you can develop a habit. Plus, it seems to fall in line with the recommendations of Joan Bolker’s Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis, which I have been reading this semester. There are also numerous other blogs on the internet with similar advice; here are a couple:
- “To Become a Writer, Track Your Writing” by Jason B. Jones on the @ProfHacker blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education
- “Writing Accountability Part 1 by Jennifer Lim: How it works” on @PhD2Published’s blog.
- “Scholarly Writing Hacks: 5 Lessons I Learned Writing Every Day in June” by Jennifer Ahern-Dodson on the @ProfHacker blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education
The common theme from these blog posts goes beyond the simple daily habit of writing and includes tracking and accountability, which is where #AcWriMo comes in. While I could just join the 400+ academics from around the world that have committed to it in the @PhD2Published community, I’m taking it a step further and making the challenge to my academic friends closer to home. I know that I will hold myself more accountable to people I know.
Here is my goal for #AcWriMo:
- Write at least 500 words per day on a project that I have to write in November
- Spend at least 1 hour doing research or analyzing data for my dissertation
To track this I have made a Google Sheet to document each day’s activities and blocked out time on my calendar every day. To hold myself accountable I will post updates on social media using #AcWriMo2014 on Twitter, Facebook, and a specific Facebook group I created just for this purpose. I am going to challenge graduate students and academics that I know in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and other academics in my network to join me in this challenge.
(CC photo by Pete O'Shea.)