#AcWriMo2022 – Re-establishing a writing routine

This post is basically my academic writing walk of shame, because – really, guys, I am embarrassed to tell you this – but, okay…
I must confess:
I have a summer writing to-do-list, like every year. But this year, I am actually just crossing out the word “summer”and rename the list “winter writing list”.

All my plans concerning writing and getting writing done came to dust this summer. Okay, I got some tiny things and tasks done, but none of the big deals. And there are still three of them. It was not my fault alone – well, fault is not the right word. Life happens to be quite unpredictable. And this summer was a rollercoaster of unpredictable for a lot of people, including me. And my writing plans paid the price. To be fair, I had three weeks of vacation, which I took, which I needed, where I did not work. But without me on vacation and taking a breath and some distance to work, I would not have made it through September and October.

This still remaining and intimidating to-do-list is not just a painful fact to confess – but I feel better now. I know that I am not the only one. But this fact is also causing a huge time problem. I am behind on some deadlines, other deadlines are approaching at high speed – and my only chance to deal with it is to hustle through. Eat the frog. Face the music. Getting my sh*t done.

November is finally here – late autumn vibes are coming and I love the sunsets, the darkness, the falling leaves, the cold and the mist. Even the rain. And next to my new favorite exercise since last year (NO-vember aka saying “NO” to things that will cause more problems and stress, acknowledging that I am human and no machine) another favorite thing has now once again begun: Academic Writing Month 2022 or #AcWriMo2022.

Some of you might remember my posts on academic writing – if you want to have a quick glance, I list them here once again:

Academic Writing is not just writing, it is reading, correcting, re-writing, editing, proof-reading, revising, re-submitting, sometimes a lot of crying, an so on. And it is creative and it is one of the most important skills in our profession. Every discipline has their own rules, styles and mysteries. I can only speak of my experience here – which is based in the Humanities, circling around Archaeology, Classics and History.

My tasks for this year’s #AcWriMo are a combination of not just writing but also proof-reading, submitting chapters and revisions. And because of my unfortunate time management and the problems I told you about, I think I will be working on my list until the end of December. So, in my case, I will just expand the one writing month to months and well – we will see. Wish me luck. 😉

Establishing a new routine in writing

One of the most important things I need to do for now is to re-establish a safe and sound writing routine. I had one, yes. But I am now feeling alone and overwhelmed with all the things to do. I decided to get back on track, but not alone.

  1. Ask for help = reach out to your friends who also have a lot of writing to do and are struggling like you are.
    I made a Whatsapp group called “Comitted Writing” and invited all my friends and colleagues who have the same kind of problems and who are writing a lot (or at least need to write a lot). We had our first meeting on Friday, mostly talking about our problems and what will be our goals. Tomorrow evening will be our first regular writing meeting and I am very excited and motivated.
  2. Read more. Not just research papers – books. Normal books, just for fun.
    I am feeling like I have lost the ability of forming sentences. As if I have run out of words to put into these sentences. I need inspiration. I am basically searching the flow of my writing. It must be there, I am sure.
  3. Time blocking.
    The before mentioned writing group was the ignition for trying time blocking once again. I have now fixed appointments saying “Writing time” on Mondays and Fridays – I am usually working at University Tuesday to Thursday, so these two days are my spare time. Not all the writing I need to do is for my University job. And because of my unusccessful summer writing, I need to work overtime the next weeks for meeting deadlines. Once again, this is not the norm for me and I am not a fan of the glorifies overworking topos in Academia. We are human, Academia is a job, I have a life. The End.
    I also try to write at least one hour on my normal working days to push my projects. On weekends I would like to get more of my private reading done. No screens, if possible. And yes, I blocked time for reading, like a date. Me meeting fictional people, but hey, as an archaeologist I am meeting dead people all the time in my research. At least the fictional ones are alive. 🙂
  4. Check on my accountability.
    Sarah and I have made an accountability deal. Each morning we tell us our three important tasks for the day ahead. And in the evening we tell us about our day and how we managed these three tasks. And one task for the next weeks will be “getting some writing done”.
  5. Break the giant lumps into small ones – keep on writing step by step.
    I can work on my printing proofs every day. Huge lump. Giant lump. Or: I can work today on my bibliography and my images, tomorrow on my remaining data visualizations and the day after tomorrow I will resubmit the whole thing after cross-checking all my references. Taking one small step at a time. This also helps with anxiety and with being absolutely overwhelmed. I can step back to be just whelmed, but I am not in a state of shock, with a tendency to start procrastinating.
  6. Write more – well, yes, sure, but: Write more as in writing a diary or a research journal.
    I am currently doing both. I love my research journal, but I started a diary over a month ago and wow – it works. Combined with reading more non-research books, this kind of writing calms me down and gives me time to think clearer about my work and what I have to do. I need time to reflect and I am doing this while reading and writing in private and just for me.

What should my writing routine look like in the end?

My goal and ideal writing routine will be a week, where I am at least 10 hours focused on my writing. With my three hours on Tuesday to Thursday, this makes 3.5 hours on Monday and Friday. When done in a state of full concentration (or deep work), I can push all my writing projects ahead. For November, there will be some overtime hours, but until December I would be able to meet the most important deadlines and getting rid of the most giant lumps on my writing list.

I am a morning person (and I am proud of it!), so I will mostly write in the morning, next to the hours we will meet in our writing group. My ideal goal is to get um at 6, be ready at 6.30 and write until 7.30, until it is at least dusky outside, so I can go on my morning run. This will be my morning routine for the winter months. I doubt that I can push myself to get up at 5 AM (I did this a lot), because I am really exhausted as we speak and sleep is important to keep your mind together. So, more sleep until I feel better and more energized. I need to trust my body, I guess.

I am ready for a new adventure…

I will keep you posted on my steps on Instagram and Twitter. If you are struggling with writing as well, tell me about it and let us know your ideas to get back on track. What are your big writing challenges? Have you set a goal for yourself during #AcWriMo2022?


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