Would extreme focus on one research project for 30 days catapult you to publishing success? That’s what writers all over the world will be hoping this November.
November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, to most nerds, but to a select few of us it’s also Academic Writing Month—AcWriMo. Charlotte Frost, founder and director of PhD2Published, started AcWriMo in 2011 because while the idea of focusing on a writing project for 30 days with the support of a larger community is a great idea, academic writing is a different beast than fiction.
I’m lucky to be on a research sabbatical this year so I’m all in on AcWriMo. While the overall goal is to get as many words on the page as possible, to make the most of the month the hard work actually starts before November.
Here’s how to prep for success:
- Choose your project wisely. You’re supposed to be writing a lot of words during AcWriMo, so picking a project that’s almost finished might make you feel good, but isn’t exactly ideal. A better project would be to finally put your butt in the chair for a book project you’ve been tossing around for a few years or to write up some research you’ve already completed. You’ll need enough work to sustain you for 30 days. But…
- Don’t set your expectations too high. You shouldn’t start a 90K word book on November 1st and expect to finish by the end of the month. Depending on your teaching and service load, and obligations outside of work, you may only have an hour a day to devote to writing. You need a realistic goal or you’ll likely give up before the Thanksgiving turkey’s in the oven.
- Read and outline before the month starts. All writers know how unproductive it feels to spend an entire day doing background reading—even though it’s necessary, when no words make their way to the page it’s frustrating. AcWriMo is about writing so you want to have plenty of reading done beforehand. You’ll also need an outline of how you’ll proceed throughout the month. What should you have accomplished at the end of Week 1? Week 2?
- Be accountable. There’s a large community of academics who will post their #AcWriMo progress on Twitter (using #AcWri for other months). You can check in there—feel free to tag me (@profsciubba), I’d love to keep up with your progress—or you can find an accountability partner to exchange progress reports. Check out the #AmWriting podcast for great writing tips in general, and an especially interesting episode from 10/5/17 on prepping for NaNoWriMo.
My plan: I have about 17K messy, half-coherent words of a book manuscript and my goal during November’s AcWriMo is to end the month with a polished sample chapter and a solid book proposal. Word count-wise, I’d like to end up with 40-50K, or half the book. I already have an outline and notes and I’ve been thinking about the book for years, so I’m ready to rock and roll. Who’s with me?
Tags: writing, academia, publishing, research