Research Reboot: Academic Writing Month

Welcome to the RESEARCH Reboot on the Daily Dose!

A brilliant pair of colleagues recently brought #AcWriMo to my attention. Many of you may be familiar with the #NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, and there are many supportive blogs and websites to help your November be 50,000 words richer. The Academic Writing Month is a like-minded attempt to increase academic productivity.

According to George Williams of the Chronicle, the rules for this game are:

  1. Set yourself some crazy goals.
  2. Publicly declare your participation and goals.
  3. Draft a strategy.
  4. Discuss what you’re doing.
  5. Don’t slack off.
  6. Publicly declare your results.

1. The setting of goals is always the most exciting part. Dream big. However, setting goals that are too insane may make you feel deflated at the end of November… I suggest crazy over lunacy. Setting goals is, however, one of the biggest means to success at any time. Writing them down–post it notes, computer files, iPhone lists–helps us visualize future success.

2. Public declaration works. Really. It is the spiritual confession of the academic, and it will help you stick to those goals rather than revising them as you go (Did I really say I’d finish that proposal? Oh. Yes, I suppose I did.)

3. Strategy is the second part of goal setting. Most of us get stuck when we create the goals and then don’t consider how we will attack them. Setting a time schedule may be the best way: How many hours a day can you commit? When do you work best? What do you need in terms of comfort food, comfy clothes and sound tracks to be successful? Make that schedule. Then COMMIT to it.

4. Discussion is always the best way to share. A friend of mine blogged on Researcher Life–and I have found comfort in reading what she and others are doing. Twitter has also been a great conversation starter–and a good place to go for inspiration.

5. Don’t slack is the back end of COMMIT. In this carrot/stick arrangement, don’t forget the stick.

6. Share your results. How else will we inspire next year’s participants?


As for me, this November will be a very busy month indeed… partly because I live between the realms of academic and fiction writing. I will be finishing edits for a YA manuscript for an Agency–itself almost as time consuming as writing a new one (and not usually as much fun). For AcWriMo, however, I will:

  • Finish writing the paper on ‘Moral Cure’ for the Modern Language Association Conference
  • Finish the introduction to the edited collection Birthing the Monster of Tomorrow
  • Begin the scaffolding for my next monograph chapter (the proposal for which is presently under review)

An article in a month, plus administrative writing tasks–not too modest, not to crazy. Welcome to November!


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