NaNoWriMo as AcBoWriMo Beta!
Posted by Charlotte Frost

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s an initiative designed to turn the month of November into a month-long write-fest for current or would-be novelists. The idea is that you set yourself the task of writing 50 thousand words in November and bingo, you’ve got yourself a novel – or at least a first draft of a novel.

I did the bulk of my thesis writing in a fairly short amount of time. Not a month, I hasten to add, but I did embark on some intensive writing (as well as intensive Nutella-eating). Currently, I’m doing a Post-Doc in the US and part of why I’m here is so I can finish my first book. So after hearing about NaNoWriMo a colleague and I started wondering whether AcBoWriMo might be possible.

That’s right, we are here-by declaring November the first Academic Book Writing Month or AcBoWriMo Beta/0.1 or something. We are going to wear comfy clothes, drink a lot of coffee, probably nap in our offices at strange hours and see how close we can get to writing 50 thousand words in one month. I know, it’s totally insane, there can surely only be a handful of academics who can actually turn out decent material in such a short space of time. There are also a lot of differences between writing novels and academic books, but aren’t you just a little bit curious to know how much of a kick-start a dedicated writing month could give your book?

I should emphasize that this is very much a test. I, personally, have no idea if I can even come close to the amount of reading and writing required to complete even 20 thousand words in one month, but let’s just think of it as an academic version of an extreme sport.

There’ll be a hashtag for Twitter where anyone interested in participating – or indeed watching from afar – can talk about progress and share tips and ideas for speed reading/writing (#acbowrimo). And we’re also hoping there might be a write-in in our department or someone’s apartment where we gather people together for mutual support and literally write the night away. Maybe you fancy staging one too somewhere and Skyping us for solidarity? Awww, it’ll be just like we’re students all over again – although with less alcohol in our systems.

So it would be great to know what you think about the idea. Please use this blog post to put your name down if you’d like to participate in this beta test phase of AcBoWriMo as this act alone should shame you into actually doing some work. And then, if you’re on Twitter, keep in touch with us using the tag or tweet us @PhD2Published. Oh, and it needn’t be a book you’re working on, thesis and article writers are all welcome too!

Charlotte Frost. Posted by Charlotte Frost

Art & technology broadcaster/academic & glamour puss. Founder of Arts Future Book & Provost International Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for 21st Century Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

73 Comments Posted in Press & Events, Writing
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  1. Just read about it on twitter. I am in :)

  2. I’m in (better late) I need to start my thesis, I don’t know what my american education equivalent level would be, but my thesis should be around 100-200 pages long, got nothing yet T_T
    So bring the peanut butter on! (allergic to nutella, maybe writters just need high-protein high-fat creamie-thing)

    Greetings from México

  3. I am hereby formally shamed! I’m in. Greetings from SoCal.

  4. I, too, am in, even with starting a week behind! Goal is to have draft of Chapters 4 & 5 of dissertation by Dec. 1st. So, yeah, 50,000 words. Oof. This is gonna be ugly.

  5. you’re correct. there are only “handful of academics who can actually turn out decent material in such a short space of time.” and does anyone really care about “decent” material? I certainly don’t. Shouldn’t the bar be set a tad higher? let’s lose the stopwatch and concentrate on quality.

  6. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I really wanted this project (like the rest of PhD2Published) to yet again provide for lots of exchage about what academic writing and publishing are and what they could or should be. There have been many great debates already and I’m thrilled about that (and will be discussing these for the Guardian Higher Education Network after this is all over). Perhaps it’s not clear, but this is just one month (out of many) where we’re collaboratively creating a community of writing support, where academics can share their process, find out what works in different disciplines, and get past some writer’s block. It’s absolutely not about lowing standards.

  7. PS I think I misused the word ‘decent’ which I used to mean something more like ‘respectable’ rather than just ‘adequate’.

  8. would love to join in! goals: 1) draft book chapter (shitty first draft) 2) post for profhacker, 3) fellowship app

  9. Sounds like a nicely insane event! I hope your book(s) got a great start. I wrote my dissertation in 27 straight days, back before word processors, on yellow legal tablets. Boxes of them! It was closer to 25,000 words than 50,000, but the illustrations were extensive. And I had to draw those by hand as well. Things sure have changed for the better!

    I hope to hear that this all works; I’ve got a non-fiction title that needs a kick-start…

  10. Very good information. Lucky me I found your site by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have saved it for later!

  11. Ha! I thought I was the only one doing this! Glad to know I have a peer group. Essays, articles, grant narratives, and class lectures for me. I’m not in book mode this year, but if I can get these other ducks to line up then maybe 2014 or 2015 will be book year for me.

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