Let’s do this

Charlotte Frost has declared November AcWriMo–Academic Writing Month. Recognizing that the NaNoWriMo goalpost of 50,000 words is a bit much for many academic projects, Frost suggests setting ambitious word-count or writing-time goals and then sticking to them. The six steps she proposes 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.

I’ve had a busy October, but not a terribly productive one: I completed a fellowship application and a minor chapter revision, delivered a conference paper, and went to a wedding, but I didn’t produce much new material. Having wrapped up several things that were in progress, I need to decide what I’ll turn to next. I could return to a chapter that needs revising, or start on expanding the conference paper I delivered into a different chapter.

NaNoWriMo and AcWriMo emphasize drafting–putting lots of words on the page and pushing yourself toward a goal, and worrying about revising and refining later. In that spirit, I’m going to set myself the goal of a full chapter draft by the end of November. I’m not as concerned about word count–I don’t care if the chapter is 10,000 words or 17,000 words, as long as it’s complete.

I’m using the last few days of October to do some more secondary reading so that I can jump right in to planning the argument when November rolls around, though I’m sure I’ll have to go back and do more reading as I write. In the spirit of accountability, I’ll try to check in regularly with updates.

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2 responses to “Let’s do this

  1. I think that’s a great goal. One chapter in a month is eminently doable. Just pretend it’s a semester paper. Did you really ever start that before the last month of the class?

    • Oh, I certainly wrote seminar papers in much less than a month. The hard deadline was always a good motivator, and it’s essentially what I’m trying to replicate here. I’ve found, though, that the expanded argumentative scope of a dissertation chapter, combined with the significantly larger body of evidence I work with in the diss, meant my seminar-paper writing process didn’t quite translate to dissertation work–for one thing, I re-organize and re-conceive my argument multiple times as I work on a diss chapter, something I never even considered doing when I was hammering out a paper in a week and a half at the end of the semester. Hopefully a bit of public accountability can bring back some of that frantic, just-get-it-done coursework mentality.

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