AcWriMo so far

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.

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4 thoughts on “AcWriMo so far

  1. Honestly I think very few people are being gloaty about having achieved their goals. I’m more amazed at how MANY people aren’t having things go to plan. Makes me think that most of us must be failing at most of our plans most of the time which is somewhat heartening and depressing all at the same time.

  2. Interesting reflections! Personally, I have set a rather modest goal for Acwrimo as my purpose of joining was (and still is!) to get in to the habit of writing every day, something I’ve always found difficult. Making this goal public has certainly forced me to quit my usual excuses and procrastination habits (often involving unfocused reading) and instead I now get some writing done, no matter how I might feel about it that particular day. On those days when I’ve struggled I’ve written about why that is and in this way I’ve become more aware of the different aspects of my thesis and fieldwork I’m struggling with. I’ve also had some reflections similar to yours about the different stages of the writing process and what kind of reading that is necessary to get on with/back to writing, e.g. going back to primary sources, so while I may not achieve the goal I’ve set out for Acwrimo I hope that taking part will make me more aware of my own work process and help me plan my writing as well as my reading better.

    I agree that it’s also important to create spaces to talk about the times when things are not going according to plan and think that this is perhaps where 140 characters are not enough – but maybe you’ve just started creating such a space with this post?

  3. Thanks both for your comments. missmcinerney, yes I think you’re right that few people’s work is going exactly to plan, and it’s great that acwrimo creates a community where people can share their frustrations as well as their achievements. I guess maybe I was thinking more of the people who originally planned to join in but then realised it wouldn’t work at all and for whom even checking in with how others are doing becomes another source of anxiety/ feeling of failure. When I’m in a low period, I often find reading people’s twitter updates and blogs about their work anxiety-provoking, because everywhere it seems people are working – even if things aren’t going to plan for them, they’re there writing about it… So I tend to avoid twitter at those times.

    Ann-Kristin – I really like what you said about using acwrimo to create a habit, and also how it’s making you more aware of your working process – what works and what doesn’t. I think that’s a great way of looking at it.

  4. Pingback: Two months late and a chapter short: What I learned from AcWriMo – between the lines

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