#AcWriMo2021 and all the fuss about “writing” in Academia

You might have seen it before – November came and suddenly all social media is happy and full with #movember, #nanowrimo and #acwrimo, the latter meaning Academic Writing Month. So, another challenge, it may seem, after Inktober and so on, finally the month for getting done serious writing and reading has arrived. I decided this year also to take part in NO-vember (saying NO to everything that will cause more work and stress, I saw it on Twitter and Instagram…), because I am way too busy right now with a bunch of deadlines ahead – like Sarah, in case you saw her last post (to read it, click here). It was our second post after our break – needed, because of the many adventures (to read my summary of a rather adventurous summer, click here).

But here we are, and all those fighters and heroes in academia do know one thing for certain (no, not publish or perish, would you stop that!) – we need to publish. Therefore, we need to write. Before we can write, we need to do research, read books and papers… academic writing is hard and somehow our daily bread. A lot of brainwork (even though I had some really heavy books on my desk…). I spent quite some time blogging about academic writing – I give you here the short summary of my writing posts so far:

  • How to… – Academic Writing I – March 2021
    I started a discussion with a friend about academic writing and the need for creativity in that task. He denied, I am really in for creativity. I started research on the topic of “academic writing” and discovered some nice posts and blogs with helpful hints and working methods to improve your academic texts.
  • Academic Writing II – Training Dragons – April 2021
    All about peer review and what is it good for, anyway… – I told you about an article, my colleage and friend Isabell and I submitted. First submission of an abstract in 2019, first peer review hit us in April 2021, we did a re-submission in June 2021 and by the end of September 2021 we got our next peer review (because we actually re-wrote every inch of our paper…). And hey, please applaude, we submitted our last corrections on Halloween 2021! So, it is done, and yes, I partly do feel like Frodo.
  • Academic Writing III – What ‘writing’ can be – June 2021
    In this post, I present some problems and errors that may occurr everytime you write. From all sorts of procrastination to producing unnecessary amounts of text and the difficulties of writing a good end for your texts, there are so many problems and different tasks to do – academic writing is sometimes really getting on my nerves… 😉 But then, we all have felt that way, right? But again, writing is a way to collect thoughts. And thoughts and ideas keep science going…

But I invite you all now to take part in AcWriMo2021 – and I am not counting words or anything like that, I count deadlines and projects. Maybe you, too, have to write one article for an edited volume? Or a conference paper? Or do you have to revise your PhD thesis for publication, because you finally got a timetable from your editor? Or are you writing a new syllabus for your next teaching semester? Whatever it is, get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, take a seat – and let’s rock this sh*t.

What are my writing goals for this month?

  1. Get my reading done. (project 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Finish my first draft (project 1) within a week.
  3. Do corrections and literature research, if needed, and then send it off to peer review. (project 1)
  4. Write my outline for my conference talk and the workshop. (project 2)
  5. Work on my presentation for my first block session of teaching GIS this semester. (project 3)
  6. Reach the end of November in a stable mental state. (Yes, this is in fact a writing goal. Trust me…)

What do I do to accomplish these tasks?

  1. Reading – well, yeah, Captain Obvious, right… 😉 But no, academic reading means preparation: My desk, textmarkers, Citavi set up and ready, my research journal at hand for taking notes (and yes, I love it to do them handwritten… keeps my brain active and it is good against too much screen time).
  2. Block out writing session in my schedule. And even, if I do not feel like writing, I have to try at least for 10 minutes. Sometimes, I will hit the flow – then fine, I will keep flowing. If no flow shows up and it just doesn’t feel right, well, then no. Back to reading or I will go for a run or a boulder session instead…
  3. Switch between tasks, preventing me and my brain from getting bored. I am this kind of writer. I need a little bit of variety in my tasks.
  4. Keep a detailed log on my writing hours. For me and for my motivation and discipline. The first will vanish at some point, the latter is the thing that is important in this game.
  5. Treat myself in the best way possible: getting enough sleep, going for walks, runs and boulder session, eating regularly, taking breaks, talking with good friends and writing buddies on the phone.

I want to share my most favorite writing quote with you:

Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch. (Lilith Saintcrow/Lili St. Crow)

And it’s true. Every word. The only thing you have when you write is yourself. You have to trust yourself that you will stick to your plan and your goals. You must be brave enough to face your own madness.

Have a lovely AcWriMo – tell us about your writing strategies and your tips and tricks to stay focused!

All the best – Astrid


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