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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 am in. I am planning to write up at least three chapters of my phd thesis. 50,000 is a good target. At least one should try. I will have to do a lot of reading too. I hope 50k with readings is a doable goal…What do we have to do to join?

  2. Hi Yaamina, great to have you on board! You have joined by letting us know you want to take part here so now it’s up to you to try and get some writing done. See the 6 points in this post as well about sharing your achievements.

  3. Thats great…I am in…i will be sharing my achievements via twitter

  4. Well seeing as I was put on the twitter list – I better get my goals down in a public forum.

    1. Write and submit and article for publication
    2. Write a conference paper
    3. Write up my quantitative research results (I’m using an explanatory mixed quan -qual methodology)

    I am a part-timer, so this will be a stretch for me in the month of November!

    Best of luck to all other AcWriMo participants!!! See you on twitter @philipmurraycit

  5. Hi, this is a great idea and coming at an ideal time for me. I aim to complete my findings chapter and discussion chapter. Findings still has about 10k words to go and discussion will be about 20k, so a total target of around 30k. My writing will be done in chunks, not daily as I work full time but I have some leave organised during November too. Being part of this will be great motivation and support.

  6. Yep, this is a great idea!
    I have a rough outline for a qual interview paper. The problem is that I need to finish the data analysis! I’m not sure that data analysis fits totally within the AcWriMo rules, but if the end goal is a draft paper … can I still join???


  7. Great timing for this! I just got official word of my first book contract and will be pushing to get the finished manuscript to the editor December 31. For November, my goals are to finish/revise the final chapter and revise an article based on that chapter. Would also love to start revising the epilogue, but that may be pushed to December.

    Looking forward to participating!


  8. Of course you can! Instead of setting a word-based goal, just set yourself one based on time spent working or overall achievements.

  9. Yay! Great to have you with us!

  10. Yeah, we’re pretty tough around here! Express vague interest and we start cracking the whip! 😉 Anyway, great goals and as long as it’s a stretch, that’s all we want so we can get behind you and propel you along! Thanks for joining in!

  11. I’m so in. My goal is finish a complete draft of my dissertation. I’m not aiming for perfection, just a document with ALL OF THE WORDS. I have about 30K words left to throw on the page and dammit, I’m just going to do it already. #letsgoacwrimo

  12. OK – I’ll go for it: 10 pomodoros of writing a week. This may not sound a lot but I am a distance student and work full time – and try to have a life too – so it is quite a commitment.
    I tend to spend time reading then searching for more to read and not enough time actually writing. Dedicating time to writing in AcWriMo should enable me to break that habit and get plenty written. Fingers and toes crossed!!!

  13. I’m in. I find this time of year really invigatorating, so turning that enthusiasm and energy into a writing blitz is a great idea. I just blogged about my plans for November writing at
    so I’ve declared them now, so I’d better deliver 🙂

  14. On top of all my other writing commitments, I will commit to 9000 words, or a book chapter. I’ve set aside NINE DAYS for this next month–aiming for 1000 words a day, which will include the reading (wish me luck!). Doesn’t sound like much, but I’m not including everything else I’ve committed to already writing-wise. Aiming for a more polished draft, but I’ll settle for a rough one. Thanks for setting this up again!

  15. I’m going to participate this year! I am coming off a rough summer of travel and distraction, and need a push to get over my post-proposal hump and crank out pages of my diss. I’m setting my goal at 30,000 words – 1500/day Sunday-Thursday (7500/wk), using Friday as a day to make up the difference in case I don’t hit 7500 words during the week. Election night and Thanksgiving will throw some kinks into this, but the odd Thursday and Friday at the start of the month should help to build a bank of words at the outset. It feels crazy overwhelming – but I am looking forward to the challenge.

  16. I so want to do this..I have to think about it. (my hung-over self says not to make any important decisions today ;))

  17. I already decided that November needs to be the month I get my third dissertation manuscript done (ah, three paper option. I love/hate you). But given the goal of setting a crazy ambitious goal, I’ll amend that to finishing my draft of manuscript 3, all manuscript 2 edits, my lit review chapter, and my discussion chapter.

    I’d like to get in a good 14 or 15 pomodoros a day I think in terms of a tangible strategy. I’ve never managed to do actual nanowrimo, but I have a heck of a lot more motivation to work on this!

  18. Hi Im in too, my goal would be to write 50,000 words or may be more given Im a full time student and hoping to submit by March 2013 I have been struggling so much over the past year to focus and write quality chapters I always end up with unfinished chapters! So may be AcWriMo would help me especially if I feel Im part of a network not totally on my own! Im not a big fan of twitter so where can I post my “achievements” 🙂 ???

  19. Great idea.

    My goal will be to finish my doctoral thesis. It is taking me longer to write up my analysis (which I have already done; I just need to write it up!) than I expected, so this will be my plan for the end of November. I cannot control the feedback or time revising I will need, but that cannot happen until I finish my part.

    Count me in, and good writing to you all!


  20. OK. So I plan to submit a re-draft of my PhD by December 1. Bring on November!

  21. Well I am definitely up for this! I need to write 4 analysis chapters by Xmas and work part time alongside my PhD and have a family with a 3, 13 and 17 year old to keep in line so this month of focus will be fantastic!

    My aim for November is my first (hardest) analysis chapter done and the second finished in draft format 😀

  22. I’m in! I have to write my quantitative analysis chapter (am also doing mixed methods quan-qual, like Philip) – that will be about 10k I think. I think I’ll also need to have a time goal, for the qualitative data analysis that needs doing! So, my goals are 10k words plus 30 hours of coding.

    Sarah (@merry30)

  23. ok, I’m back, had time to sleep over it. I am worried that I can’t do it but here is my goal:
    in November, I will finish three papers as well as two lectures (for January). I’m away all December, so not sure how much writing I’ll get done then. That way, I’ll meet my goal (which I should be working on since September) of finishing those three publications 🙁

  24. I’m in! I’ll be blogging my progress on the University of Warwick’s Researcher Life blog, and hopefully getting some ECRs to join me along the way: http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/researcherlife/entry/acwrimo/
    I will set my goal later this week, it is roughly along the lines of “write book” but I’ll probably break that down a little more realistically!

  25. Well, I decided to use my pledge to AcWriMo as my blogpost today – I hope it’s ok just to post the link to said post instead of writing it again here. http://bit.ly/TEJ3EN

  26. Ok I’m in!
    I’m an undergraduate so I have lots to keep busy with with lectures, two jobs and volunteering, plus my work will need to include research so I’m setting myself a modest target of 16000 words, which is half of my dissertation and all of my other coursework commitments this term. Hopefully I will exceed it, if not I will at least have a much less busy Christmas vacation!

  27. Hi, Im up for a challenge – I’m in the middle of my PhD, so am aiming to write 15,000 words. A chapter finished and the outline for the next one. Of course the aim is not just 15,000 words, but 15,000 ‘good’ words.

  28. I’m excited about this. Perfect timing for me. Have PhD to write up, submission March 2013. I’m going all out for the 50 000 words in November.

  29. I’m in too! Am still defining my goals…

  30. I am in. I have my PhD, but am in the process of trying to get some papers that are half finished out the door, plus I would like to make substantial progress on the next papers. My goal is 15,000 words: 5,000 words on the two new projects and 2,500 on the two pending projects.

  31. I’m in, but with a sort of twist. I’ve written about AcWriMo for a church musician here.

  32. Count me in! I am falling behind in my progress towards a PhD and would love to get a big chunk of writing under my belt for December even if all has to be rewritten! My goal is 5000 words a week which, with three young children in flu/cold season, is a challenging but doable target I think.

  33. Only one week to go!!!

    Excellent to see all of your goals for #Acwrimo on here guys! And to have so many at different career stages and with varied interests is amazing. We’re all in this together so share your progress but also your worries and concerns. It just takes those one or two words of encouragement sometimes to carry on.

    Me and Charlotte are also in it with you don’t forget and we’ll do our best to keep up the encouragement throughout the month.

  34. I have just ‘unsigned up’ for nanowrimo and switched to this as I have a conference paper to write (which will be the starter for my doc thesis too) and a book festival presentation to prepare. I have a great deal of academic writing to do which I was going to pretend was a novel for the sake of the word count, so I’m glad I found out about acwrimo – JustInTime!! I’m attending a Uni writing day tomorrow so will make a start then. The paper demands quite a bit of data processing as well as the writing so I think if I achieve a reasonable first draft in November I will be pleased. Also I have to juggle various commissioned pieces of work, and organising a conference too. Looking forward to ‘meeting’ you all.

  35. This is a great idea—one I will share on both Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m a professor….the tenure treadmill is long behind me…but I’ve really hated how much administrative and service obligations has taken me away from the research and writing that I love! My goal will be high for me….5000 words a week or 20,000 words for the month But I want to really push myself and see what I can get done.

    I’m also going to send this blog to a graduate student group I work with (one of the other duties!), our Preparing Future Faculty students.


  36. Ok, I’m in too! First year Ph.D. student with many term papers and conference abstracts/papers to write. I’m setting a modest goal of 400 words a day. I hope that will amount to 3 term papers (at least drafts) and 3 abstracts.

    I’m so excited that this is here…I need to get a move on with my research.

  37. My goals for the month involve about 14000 new words. But, most of my work will be revising papers that are already in progress.

    DEP: Revise CH 3
    DEP: Finish first draft of CH 4
    ERS Special Issue: Write Intro (2000 words)
    ERS Response to Racism article (2000 words)
    Revise Parenting Chapter
    Revise LPR deportation Chapter
    Submit ERS Special Issue Introduction (2000 words)
    OUP: Finish Chapter 7: Understanding Racial Inequality Today: Theories of Racism (8000 words)
    OUP: Outline Chapter 8: “Educational Inequality” – talk to IB

  38. I have a mixture of projects, from polishing and maybe adding a bit to an essay that would be part of a collection, to transcribing manuscripts from my last big research trip, to converting a diss chapter into a journal article:
    Revise Imagining Women essay (polish) (add up to 1,000)
    Revise and expand Masculinity paper — turn into journal article (5,000 new)
    Process/Transcribe data from research trip (10,000 words)
    See if can turn diss work into a journal article (7,000)

    That adds up to 23,000 words. I have no idea how feasible this will be, so I am going to make Pomodoros the main way to measure success.

    I am not sure if 20 Pomodoros a week (5×4 days/wk) is insane enough, so I will add 2 Pomodoros of academic reading 4 days/wk, to up the total to 28 Pomodoros a week.

    I am a Twitter newb, so I may end up checking in on FB.

    Break a leg (or should I say writing arm?) to all the AcWriMo participants!

  39. Love the idea of being accountable to a group of like minded people.
    I’m committing to the 50,000 words. I’m in my finally push, need to get
    one more results chapter, intro and discussion done before the end of the year.

  40. I’m in! My plan is to produce drafts of two chapters in my new book project, which I estimate will be around 25-28,000 words. I’ll aim for approximately 1000 words per writing day, and writing days will be every day except the Thanksgiving holidays.

  41. Okay so I’m going to make my goals public!

    Since I work full-time, I am going to set my self a goal of five Pomodoro’s on Thursday mornings when I have research time and on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday (so I guess that’s 20 Pomodoro’s a week!). I’m really looking forward to achieving some great writing or at least productive writing!

  42. Between NaNoWriMo, DiGiWriMo and now AcWriMo, I have no idea which one to do – and obviously don’t have time to do all of them!

    I have a linguistics paper due December 21st and would like to get it done in November but it’s “only” required to be about 6,000-10,000 words long. This is the most important, urgent project of all three and I’ll have to do it anyway.

    I’ve always wanted to write a novel but don’t have one planned right now. I have a few ideas and I know NaNoWriMo doesn’t require to have everything figured out from the start (although it’s easier to write when you’ve planned the novel in advance), so I’d like to give it a shot as well.

    And as I’d like to become a translator after my M.A. I am thinking about translating a text (or several texts that would add up to the 50K goal) into French as part of DiGiWriMo. I’m currently looking for people who would agree to let me translate their (non-fiction) text. Anyone interested, please let me know on Twitter @clavoline

    So I don’t know, maybe I could combine all three? 10,000 AcWriMo, 20,000 DiGiWriMo and 20,000 NaNoWriMo?

    Is anyone doing all three or at least two different -WriMo? How will you manage that?

  43. Count me in. I will write a minimum of 30,000 words. I have to submit by March 2013, so this is perfect timing for me. I have two young children but I’m taking leave from work to focus on #AcWriMo!

  44. Count me in. My goal is 30.000 words on HugeProject.

  45. My academic writing project will get at least 1 Pomodoro every day during November. The goal is to produce 25,000 words. Thanks for the support!

  46. Thank goodness I found this! I have two major goals toward completion of a master’s thesis. By joining in ACWRIMO, I can try to fast track this by 2-4 weeks.
    1. by Nov 2-9 complete, and have supervisory approval for, the outline of my thesis (all arguments/findings/methods etc resolved)
    2. by Nov 30 -Dec 7 have complete full draft of thesis (Goal 2 depends on when supervisor signs off on Goal 1) (word count unknown – will be setting smaller ‘portion’-related sub goals each day/week)

    My supervisor is going on mat leave in less than two weeks. At that time, I’ll get a new supervisor. I’ve not really worked with new sup. before, though I have agreed to the replacement and think they have to sign off on the project as approved by current supervisor (see Goal 1 above). I’ve had little warning about this – supervisor was on sabbatical for previous 8 mos, and announced another 6 month leave 4 weeks after returning from sabbatical (pregnancy was a big surprise). I am finishing the work in a different city than my school – taking a writing retreat, if you like, where I have the space and time to work comfortably, full time until it’s done.

    I feel an enormous amount of stress because of time crunch of primary supervisor, deadlines to avoid registering for another semester, isolation from others doing same kind of academic work and the unknown element of new eyes on the project. I hope this will help me frame the work as a month long project and will provide some of the peer support that’s missing by doing this project ‘remotely’. Here we go – one day at a time!!

  47. I’m in. I have two small children and am recovering at home from major surgery so I’m pledging 5,000 words a week for the month of November. I’m a second year PhD student and have just hit 40,000 words. I’m hoping that AcWriMo gives me a good chunk as backup while I start teaching for the first time next year. Deep breath.

  48. I have article revisions due at the end of the month, so I feel like I’m cheating by claiming that, but I’m also going to commit to working on my book. hmmm word count or finished chapters have to decide

  49. I am in! I am a third year PhD student and my goal is to have 4 rough drafts of my prelim exam statements in hand and ready to give to my professor on November 30. Eek.

  50. I’m co-wirting a book on internet governance with two other researchers. I have three chapters to do the first draft of. At 10k words per chapter that’s about 30k words. I’magonnahaveago at doing them all in November. This will be interesting given that I also have a full time job that’s not research and Im’m on holiday for a week – but hay, you said craazy right?

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