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NaNoWriMo as AcBoWriMo Beta!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatfields/3937933747/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wheatfields/3937933747/

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!


  1. I’m moving house at the start of Nov, but if I can unpack the books in time I’ll try for 25K words in the second half of the month (article writing not book).

    By the way, I wonder if there’s some research to be done on the relationship between thesis writing and Nutella consumption.

  2. sounds like a good way to turn a traditionally unproductive month into something special (for my thesis:)) And it’s so cold and wet, I’m going to be inside all the time anyway… Well, I’m in!

  3. I’m in. But for poetry — I’ll aim for 25 pages of poetry in November. (That’s about half of a book of poetry.)

  4. Yay, I’m so excited!!! Thanks everyone for joining in in whatever capacity suits. I’ve just bought some purple sweat pants so I sure mean business! 😉 And there will be posts coming up providing some much-needed support and advice!

  5. I’m also in! Any support and motivation I can get for writing is always a bonus! Especially so close to Christmas, when there are lots of distractions!

  6. I actually did something similar when I was finishing my dissertation. I called it NaDiFiMo, National Dissertation Finishing Month. This was in 2009. I figured out how many words I still needed to write on my dissertation and divided by the number of days in the month, and that’s how much I wrote every day. It worked. It helped that I had some friends doing NaNoWriMo, so I think building a community is key to the success of something like this. NaNoWriMo folks need to write about 1600 words a day to get to the 50,000. I had a few really good days where I hit 1600 words, but since academic writing is denser (and requires research), I only made myself write 500 words per day. In hindsight, I think I could do more.

  7. I’m in! I’m returning to my PhD after a lengthy health-related absence and I need all of the added motivation I can get. Go team!

  8. Thanks Jesse, dividing up word counts will be a great start! I can write silly amounts if I try, but I’d like to try harder to make them count, so this will help me be more measured. I wonder if I divide the Nutella up like that it’ll help too?! 😉

  9. I’m in! Although my day job will hamper the total word count, it’ll be great to feel some progress being made! Bring on the Nutella…

  10. I like it! My goal: two academic articles, approx 8,000 words each. One used to be half-written but I haven’t looked at it in 3 years. I’d like to be in touch about this but I don’t tweet or twitter. Could we also have a Facebook page or should I just keep checking this blog or something?

  11. I’m in! I’m in my last semester of coursework for my phd. My must-do goal is to revise an article that has a deadline in November; after that are the two seminar papers due at the end of the semester. I have a lot of friends who do NaNoWriMo; it will be nice to feel as though I’m writing along with them, as well as this community of academic writers!

  12. I’m in! I could use the kick-start. Most of my grading should be under control by Nov 1, so I can dedicate more time to writing.

  13. I did a NaTheWriMo a couple of years ago to get my thesis going….worked as well.

  14. I’m in – for editing.

  15. Yes! Yes! My variation will be Jesse’s NaDiFiMo – need to finish my dissertation! Need help! Need solidarity! Need community! Good idea Charlotte, and “Good Skill” to you (a variation on Good Luck, because usually luck has nothing on skill)!

  16. I’m so there! Great idea – I actually have a book to write and all 🙂

  17. I’m in. Have no idea if I can pull this off but love the spirit of it.

  18. Great idea! Echo thoughts above about support of a community being helpful as well as deciding on a daily word target.

    I have just started Chapter 2 of my PhD (english literature). I do that part-time and work full-time so I’ll set myself half the limit I’m using for my chapters – 20 000 words becomes 10 000 words, which seems pathetic in comparison to your goal. ! But this will be hard enough, believe me. I haven’t even started the theoretical research for Chapter 2 yet.

    Good luck everyone.

  19. Yes! I’m in! Mine will also be for revising/editing. I have two months til submission and this needs to get done!! Since I’ll be working from my parents house (deepest darkest countryside), some solidarity will be much appreciated.

  20. I’m in! I may be hindered slightly by a large pile of essays that require marking in the second half of November but will aim to have 2 book chapters written and ready to submit to publishers by the end of the month …

  21. I’m in too. I *only* have to write 30,000 words, so I’m going to see if I can get anywhere near it. I’ve been putting off writing (of course) and really do have to get going again. I am publicly shaming myself into getting the work done… It will bring me back to submission target if I do it…..

  22. OK, count me in. Getting to the pointy end with my PhD submission date in the second half of next year. I can’t completely clear the calendar for November so might aim a little lower – a chapter would be good so let’s say 10 – 15 000 words Ditto on the marking issues, family commitments etc but love the idea of a bunch of us writing like there’s no December! Will have to institute a regime of pomodoro’s and chocolate biscuits I feel.

  23. his is FAB!!! I was going to do NaNoWriMo as I want to write my thesis and quick… although it rather scares the living daylights out of me…! But here’s to a month of writing… writing and more writing…!!! (Oh and drinking copious amounts of tea!)

  24. I’m in!

    I’ve got to hand in my thesis at the start of 2012 so this is perfect timing!

  25. I’ll give it a go – I need to get into the habit of writing every day. I will aim for 500 words a day, which will include finishing transcribing some interviews.
    Great idea – good luck everybody!

  26. I’m in for my MA thesis. Let’s do this.

  27. I’m in too! I was using the Nanowrimo for my diss, but this is better match. How will we report our word counts, etc, if we don’t have (and loathe) twitter?

  28. I’m in, for:

    one 11,000-word academic article–a draft of it that I can share with a few colleagues without being ashamed of how miserable it is. I think this may mean actually writing about 15,000 words in the first three weeks, alongside re-coding some notes from interviews etc.; then revising. (So, daily goal of about 750 words/day on that project). And…

    about 3-4 thousand words of another academic article (of which many words are sure to be cut). I’m not sure how to plan this–maybe work on it 2 days/week, 2 pages/day?) And…

    Daily writing on my new project, NOTES at least, at least a paragraph every day.

    there’s a pile of papers to be graded this week, so my plan is to reserve morning hours for writing whenever possible, and do the grading in the evenings. Also, writing every day, including at least one hour each weekend day (let’s see how i fit that in around the kids, ha ha).

    @Jen: funny to do this online, compared with our NaDiFiMo back in 2007!

    Good luck to us all!

  29. 14,000 words or bust by early December. Thanks for the solidarity!

  30. Will do an adapted version with a goal of revising 50,000 pages of a manuscript.

  31. Will do an adapted version with a goal of revising 50,000 words of a manuscript.

  32. I’m in, too! 1000 words x 5 days (= 7 days – 2 teaching days) x 4 weeks = 20K on chapters 2 and 4. Woot!

  33. I’m in: my goal is 750 words a day on my scholarly book and 750 words on my novel.

  34. I love this idea. I am a stuck ABD-er that needs to write for an hour a day (friend on Twitter–girlinmaths-has this goal). Not sure how many words total at this point are needed, but 30 hours of writing this month is a vast improvement over none. Thanks for the inspiration! We can do this.

  35. I have a literature review to write and several articles I’ve been putting off. I’m in!

  36. I’m in! For 1000 words a day I think. Great idea – I’ve wanted to do something like this for months!

  37. I’m in! Love this idea.

  38. Found this through ProfHacker, and I am in! I’m aiming for 1000 words/day for 6 days/week. (Building in some automatic slack for the fact that my kid is currently boycotting long naps and I may only be able to work at night) That makes 24000 words–2 chapters. Hallelujah!

  39. I’m in–I’ve stalled on my book project with only one chapter left to draft! (And revisions/additions to four more). My goal is 25,000 words for the month; that should cover the draft, revisions, and additions (I am including documents for each chapter; it’s a history monograph).

    /Firing up the coffeepot
    //Setting the IV for slow drip

  40. Great idea. My goal is an article draft so count me in for something in the range of 7500-10,000. My thesis can wait until the AcBoWriMo 1.0 release November 2012.

  41. I’m in. I’m teaching a 4+1 load this semester but I need to finish my diss so I’ll try to stay up with everyone. Strange naps in strange offices sound great too!

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