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Announcing AcWriMo!

Remember AcBoWriMo, last year’s experiment in a month-long writing productivity drive? Well, it’s back, bigger and better than ever – but without the ‘Bo’!

The idea hails from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) an initiative designed to turn the whole 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 alone and bingo, you’ve got yourself a whole big chunk of novel!  In 2011 I decided academics should give something similar a go and, I can happily report, it went brilliantly!

For AcBoWriMo, I invited people to join me in wearing comfy clothes, drinking a lot of coffee, napping at strange times and seeing how close we could each get to writing 50 thousand words. I admitted at the time that it was an insane target, but that it wasn’t the word count that was the point. Rather, it was a bid to gather people together for mutual support in the, at times, painfully difficult and soul-crushingly lonely task of academic writing. In the last year alone, I’ve watched with awe and excitement as so many academic communities have grown and expanded on social media platforms like Twitter (examples include #phdchat, #ecrbook, #digped, #fycchat with plenty more to be found here). Not to mention that our own AcBoWriMo off-shoot (and collaboration with Jeremy Segrott), the regular live Twitter chat on academic writing, #AcWri, has co-ordinated a huge amount of valuable discussion. Nice work Anna and Jeremy!

So I decided it was worth giving it all another go – with some revisions…

This year’s event will focus on ALL aspects of academic writing, and will encourage participants to set their own (wild) goals. As a result of that, and the strength of the AcWri community, it will be called AcWriMo. Just like Craig David, I copped some flack for the ‘Bo!’ part. Although I never intended to promote the idea that an entire academic book could be written in a month, by calling the event Academic Book Writing Month, it seems I over-emphasised that part. But we still want you to join in on setting yourself some unrealistic targets and fighting alongside us to achieve them.

So, here are the rules for #AcWriMo 2012

1. Set yourself some crazy goals. Try and come up with some outcomes that would really push you beyond anything you ever thought possible. I always said 50,000 words is a bit of a nutty goal for academic writing in one month (it works out at something like 2,500 words a day and that’s just bonkers) but if you’re bonkers, go ahead and set that target. Otherwise, think about how much you are comfortably able to write a day and set yourself the task of regularly exceeding that amount. If you can manage 300 words a day then we want 400, if you can do 1000, then we want 1500 – something like that. Last year, a lot of people preferred setting themselves a time-based goal. They would try to write for so many hours a day or week and often used the Pomodoro technique to count units of productive time. If that’s your thing, go for it! How about sneaking in an extra Pomodoro a day? Or, look at all the writing tasks you’ve got to achieve over the next few months and decide to get a set amount of them done in November. In the US it’s job season, so how about you count your job-letter-writing-time. Or article drafts maybe?

2. Publicly declare your participation and goals. You can do this by adding to the comments of this very blog post, by tweeting using the hashtag #AcWriMo, or by writing on our PhD2Published Facebook page. Being accountable is key to this working for you as a way to push yourself, but if you want to silently take part, at least tell a friend who is likely to hold you to it. [edit: you can now also add your goals to and keep track of your progress with Jenn’s AcWriMo Accountability Spreadsheet – thanks Jenn!]

3. Draft a strategy. This is essential if you’re going to make a success of this. Sitting down to write without preparation is the first step towards being struck down with writer’s block. We’ll be blogging and tweeting lots of ideas to help you, so before you start, work out a strategy for how you’ll tackle your set tasks. For example, establish how much you’ll need to write a day, and on which days you can definitely do this. Offload as much other work as you can, and get in some supplies (we recommend stocking up on decent coffee of course). Think about how you work best and adopt that approach from the start – this means planning everything from comfy clothes to reading sessions.

4. Discuss what you’re doing. OK so being on Twitter and Facebook with us all day isn’t acceptable – you’ve got work to do – but checking-in at certain times is imperative! We want to know how you’re getting on? What is working for you and what isn’t? We want you to tell us all if you need help with something but also to celebrate your successes with us too. And nothing is TMI when it’s AcWriMo because that’s the point: sharing!

5. Don’t slack off. As participant Bettina said of AcBoWriMo, you must ‘write like there’s no December!’ But guess what? If you work super hard now, there’s going to be more December to go round. Remember how December usually creeps up on you and suddenly its Christmas Eve and you’ve failed to buy gifts or take time out for yourself. Well, if you put the work in now, there’ll be so much December you won’t know what to do with it all!

6. Publicly declare your results – and please be honest! As a writing community, we’ll all benefit from sharing in your achievements, but it is also good to see what works and what doesn’t. And if you don’t make your targets, you’ll still be achieving the selfless goal of making the rest of us feel more normal – so it’s a community win/win really.

We’re raring to go, we hope you are too?! 🙂

  1. I’m actually at a lull period (whaaa????) with a brief pause of part of November before I begin field work to collect data for my dissertation… so I’m not exactly sure if this will work for me this year but what the heck, there is always something to write!

  2. This is so great! I was thinking about adapting NaNoWriMo for my own academic purposes, so really happy to see this conversation and community. I’m in and I’m going to aim for 30,000 words for the month. Disserationnnnnnnnnnnn!

  3. This is such a great idea – I’ve missed not having time to take part in NaNoWriMo these past few years (too busy with science! XD) so this is the perfect union of the two! Thank you!!

  4. I’m pledging to write 1 page per day (on average) for the month. If my coauthor and I both accomplish that goal, we’ll turn our very rough partial draft of a book into a full second draft that we can send to our editor.

  5. I’m new to this, but I want to try writing 500 words a day! I have to get this dissertation off the ground! Thanks for the community!

  6. I`m in ! I am writing my master thesis, I am not a very fast writer, and whenever I want to sit and write my mind is distracted…I have postponed it like forever and I have a bad conscience…honestly I hate it !
    so I think if I join you guys and keep in touch for the whole November I can do better than I did…see how close I can get to 50 thousand this month (wait…what ????)
    but seriously I like this crazy passionate idea 🙂

  7. I hereby solemnly pledge to write 2000 words a day (in 12 pomodoro’s) for 4 days in the week. I need the extra day for setting up my experiments. If all goes well and I can stay invested I hope to finish chapter 1 (my literature review) and chapter 3 (my first 2 experiments) and the theoretical framework of chapter 4 (my third experiment) of my PhD thesis.

    This basically is an absurd idea, but what the hell, I’ll give it a try. And if it works I’ll be one happy PhD in December!

  8. I have now set my goals in this blog post, and also set out some ideas for making better use of writing time: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/researcherlife/entry/acwrimo_1_the/

  9. I’ve just posted my strategy (with deadlines for each bit of writing) on my blog at

  10. My husband has been doing NaNoWriMo for years and now I’m finally ready join him. So I’m pledging to complete 80 pages in November which will be a rewrite of a chapter and a draft of the conclusion to my dissertation. Since I will be revising the other three chapters, editing a journal issue and finishing job apps, that should be plenty. But if I finish the chapter and the conclusion before 80 pages, I will move on to the introduction. I work best with page goals per day, but I may keep track of the word count too.

  11. I’m joining in with the goal to make progress on a range of projects that have stalled, main ones are to get two journal articles written based on my thesis, the ideas for them have been floating around in my head for months but I just need to get them written!

  12. I’m in! Here is my participation announcement with goals: http://jgrayman.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/acwrimo2012/

  13. I’m in for 700 words a day!

  14. I also will be participating in this. I’m not sure what my goal will be for this month, but, as I’m working on a book about Maya agriculture this will be a useful prod.

  15. Ultimate goal(s):
    • Revise and submit B. paper
    • Revise and submit R. paper
    • Literature Review for PhD

    Daily writing goal:
    • Revision of 5 pages of written work per day (until both existing articles are complete)
    • 600 words per day for literature review

  16. For AcWriMo I am going to:

    Re-outline my dissertation and make sure that all of the sections are where I want them.
    Finish the introduction, analysis, and conclusions chapters of my dissertation.

    In order to achieve these goals I am going to:

    Spend Tuesdays and Thursdays writing.
    Write for at least 6 hours on the weekends.

    Looking forward to cheering you all on and receiving the same support!

  17. Is it too late to join? I have been stuck like a dormant volcano, waiting for an eruption, but only getting spurts of lava occasionally! I struggle with setting out my strategy for what to write – I’m like a kid a lolly factory trying to choose where to start (even though I know it doesn’t matter where, as long as I start)! I need to write at least 30,000 words (really 50,000 – but that just feels too big) in the next 2 weeks? Doable? I’m going to have to go for it – and what better forum than this one?!

    So.. here goes: I’m aiming for 2.000 words per day for the next 10 days. If I get those 20,000 down, I should be ready for the next 30,000 to flow over the next 3 weeks and have a draft thesis complete. Procrastination is my key problem – tied to feeling like I don’t know enough, even though I don’t know what I know until I write it down!

    Looking forward to the challenge!

  18. It’s never too late to get a bit of support! 🙂 Welcome to AcWriMo!

  19. Hi, this has been so great! At the University of Alberta quite a few people have set goals. We had our first writing bee yesterday, good turn-out, solid productivity. This is an inspiring and motivating theme month – next year we need stickers and buttons : )

  20. For sure! We’ll be planning next year straight after this one (as it’s grown so much) so we’ll get on it! Thanks for joining us!!!!

  21. Here’s a crazy goal: 22 people collaboratively writing a book on the history of print. We’re meeting in Montreal tomorrow to collectively edit: http://interactingwithprint.org/events/Multigraph.html

  22. Wow, what a great project! We’d love a blog post on your writing processes if you have time afterwards?! And keep us posted on how it all goes!

  23. I am working on a book manuscript and I plan to have a complete draft before the end of November, as my deadline for submission is 12-15. This is a crazy but necessary goal for me and I am very excited to join this effort.

  24. My goal is to finish my literature review revision and get a full draft of chapter 4 finished. Thanks for helping to organize us!

  25. I’m a latecomer, recruited via Get a Life, PhD. I started my AcWriMo last Monday, setting truly insane goals: to get 6 unfinished, co-written MSS out by the end of month! We are making great progress. I spent over 16 hours writing last week, and two of the six manuscripts are nearly done. Good luck everyone, the peer support is great!

  26. It sounds very interesting. I am a new comer in this blog. I want to start writing my systematic review report for my master degree. Looking to analyse and synthesyse the papers from the clinical trials this month I hope to get the writing started next month. I need to write 5000-8000 words for publication.

    I am in !

  27. Hi
    I am new and I would like to join! I am writing my PhD proposal.

  28. I’m in! Writing a book and would like to fast track a bit.

    You can follow me on twitter (I’ll follow back): https://twitter.com/CapacityBldg4SD

  29. This is perfect. My Participatory Action Research Project officially ends this month and I plan to have my PhD dissertation written by January 30. I will use #acwrimo to hold myself publicly accountable to the task. This month I plan to write every day and get my process and findings chapter roughed in.

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