Tag Archives: AcWriMo

AcWriMo update: Getting started

Six days into November, and I’m already a bit behind, thanks to an out-of-town wedding this weekend. And election day is, of course, a significant distraction, as was taking the cats for their annual vet visit this afternoon. But I have managed to get things started, and am hoping I’ll pick up some momentum now that my travel-filled October has come to an end.

I started the process off the same way I always do, with a rough outline that includes the anticipated sections, major points in each sections, and a number of bullet points that read something along the lines of, “Thesis will go here,” or, “Figure out what you’re contributing to the field and explain here.”

But instead of starting at the beginning, either of the chapter or of a particular section, as I usually do, I’m trying a slightly different approach. Whenever I sit down to write, I’m just picking a bullet point from the outline and writing a few paragraphs that cover it. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to which point I tackle when—it’s all about what I feel like writing about at that particular moment.

My hope is that this will make it easier to get several hundred words written each day. If there’s something I’m stuck on, or dreading, or tired of, I don’t have to do it. I can move on to something entirely different, and as long as I get something relatively complete written (draft-worthy prose, rather than fragments or notes), I’ll count it a victory. Of course, I’ll eventually have to tackle the difficult or boring parts, and I’ll also have to write transitions to fit all the bits and pieces together, but for this first part of the month, I’m focusing on getting as much on the page as I can. In a week or two, I’ll pause and re-evaluate my strategy, and figure out what works for the pieces that are left.


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.