Every November for the last three years I have participated in AcWriMo, or academic writing month. For the newbies, here is a description from the PhD2Published website, where it all started:
“Academic Writing Month, or AcWriMo for short, is a month-long academic write-a-thon that happens every November. There are six simple rules: 1) Decide on your goal; 2) Declare it online; 3)Draft a strategy; 4)Discuss your progress; 5)Don’t slack off; 6)Declare your results.”
Obviously, every month is academic writing month when you are living the academic life. However, I still think AcWriMo is a great initiative, since for one month in the year you are trying to make writing your main (or preferably, sole) focus. Since being an academic is about so much more than writing – presenting, teaching, organizing, networking, reading, planning and conducting studies, analyzing data -, but writing seems to be the main thing we are being judged on, I always welcome AcWriMo when it arrives. And it always arrives in such a timely fashion; it is almost the end of the year, you are tired and holding on until the Christmas holidays and then AcWriMo comes around and gives you the ‘kick in the but’ you need to end the year productively!
This year, however, I am finding it hard to find the time to write, let alone be productive. Already when I was setting my goals, I got anxious, since I felt like I needed to do a lot of writing, but could not come up with clear writing tasks (or tasks that were just about writing and not ‘analyze data and write up results’ or ‘make a powerpoint presentation for next month’s conference’; these tasks do involve writing, but minimally…). In good AcWriMo spirit I tried to put my finger on what might be the problem and I realized something: this is the first year that I am participating and not writing for my PhD thesis.
I am a postdoc now and even though I have it easier than most, what with no teaching responsibilities, I still have a lot on my plate. Obviously, I had a lot on my plate during the PhD as well, but in that case everything I did was directed at one final goal: finishing that thesis on time! Now I have a number of different projects that I am working on that are related in various degrees, but do not form one unified whole to work towards. I love the freedom that comes with this, to be able to work on different projects and with different people simultaneously. It gives a nice flow to your work week; when you are tired of reading about one topic, you switch to writing about another, so to say… The downside, however, is that it is sometimes hard to prioritize when juggling so many projects. I realized that I try to keep all of the ‘balls’ in the air at all time and that is why I have had a hard time writing. I have put some balls down now (keeping them for AcWriMo2 in february or AcWriMo3 in April…) and find that I am back on track with a couple of thousand words in the last three days!! Still loving #AcWriMo!