I’m a day late with this blog post according to my goal of blogging once a week during November. But at least I’m here now!
So with a second week of Acwrimo having passed, I thought I’d reflect on how it’s gone so far in terms of my goals, as well as on my thoughts about the process.
Firstly, I pretty much know already that I’m not going to finish the drafts of both chapters I’d aimed for. But that doesn’t mean that I think I’ve ‘failed’ already – as I saw someone post on Twitter (I can’t find it now so I’m paraphrasing): it’s not always about achieving goals, but about having some to work towards.
The first week I found having specific goals effective and motivating and I got a lot of writing done. Like many others I’ve been using the pomodoro technique – with the Pomodairo application – which (after some initial qualms about it) I’m finding really useful for focusing repeatedly for short spurts of time without it ever seeming too onerous.
Last week, however, things got more difficult with the chapter I’m working on. It’s not so much a case of getting words out – thankfully (touch wood!) nowadays this isn’t so much of a problem for me, as I’ve got into a pretty solid habit of writing often. But I’m at a stage where I don’t want to be spending too much time just getting words out if they’re not the right ones (or at least approximately the right ones!). And as I was wrestling with a new section of analysis, I realised that I needed to go back to spend some more time with the primary sources that I’m analysing – I just wasn’t at all sure what it was I wanted to say.
So that’s what I’ve ended up doing, which has slowed my progress down to a point where I think a more realistic goal for this month is to finish a draft of this one chapter only.
Something else I’ve been thinking about is whether initiatives like acwrimo are helpful or not for developing sustainable working practices – in particular ones which are able to take work/life balance and mental wellbeing into account. This is important to me: working out ways of being productive, engaged and motivated at the same time as paying attention to what my mind and body needs in terms of downtime and play (something which I’ve not always been very good at).
Also, I liked the point this blog post made – with things like acwrimo, it’s mostly the people who are sticking with it and who are gaining something positive out of it who will be posting their progress and joining in the conversation. How do we create spaces to talk about the times when we can’t work and meet goals and feel crap about it?
Overall, I am finding the process useful – and I really appreciate the PhD2Published crew for initiating it. I think it’s pretty awesome the way it creates a community – however fleeting – and I am enjoying dipping into the Twitter feed. I think having the deadline – even if it is arbitrary – has definitely made me focus in on the work I need to do in a way that I often struggle to do without a deadline. So I’m glad I’m participating, even if I won’t reach my official goals. At least they’re giving me something to aim towards.