Right. Here we go. November is a month of campaigns. Some people neglect taking proper care of their facial hair to raise awareness of prostate cancer, some others have decided it should be the month of writing books. The National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short) has been around since 1999, and last year 256 618 people took part, with 36 843 people reaching the 50 000 word goal. Loads of schools are taking part, as well. The point is to take advantage of the usually foul weather and churn out text by writing every day, and logging your progress on the website, and making noise about the whole thing in the social media while you are at it.
The NaNoers are writing novels. There are initiatives to write scripts for plays, as well, and last year people started the Academic Book Writing Month, or AcBoWriMo. This year, there are people going ahead with AcWriMo, or Academic Writing Month, as most academics would not be writing books but conference papers, articles, theses, applications, research proposals etc. etc. The focus is not in churning out astronomical amounts of words, but as the mother of the idea Charlotte Frost puts it, to
- Think about how we write,
- Form a valuable support network for our writing practice,
- Build better habits for the future
- And maybe – just maybe – get more done in less time!
So, you decide on your own goal, make it public, and then get writing. The hashtag #AcWriMo in Twitter, blogs and Google+ circles serve as the public arena and mutual support groups related to the project.
My goal is to finish some stuff. I’ve got four things I want to work on.
First, I’ve got a draft of an article that has been sitting on my hard drive for a while. It’s part of my PhD thesis and it should not need too much work so that it could be sent out. I’ve got to figure out to which journal I should send it to, but this should be a relatively straight-forward goal.
Second, there’s a draft of an article that I’ve prepared with a colleague of mine. Last summer we worked on it and we got to the end of the analysis, and there is a relatively OK draft of the paper already. We would need to get the story straight and figure out what results to present and from that everything else will fall in place (we’ve written more background that we can cover, so we’ll need to choose our angle). Preparing this so that it could be submitted is my second goal.
Third, there is a new study I’m working on at my new job, and that analysis is still ongoing. But there are some results emerging now and we have tentatively decided we should go ahead and publish them in a short paper. My third goal is to get a full draft of this written by the end of the month, so that it can then be sent out internally to all the collaborators and developed into a submittable manuscript hopefully before Christmas.
Fourth, I’ve FINALLY managed to get together the draft for my PhD thesis. I’ve sent it out to a few people, including my supervisor, and while I’m not going to get all their comments by the end of the month, my goal for the month is to finish the bits that are still unfinished (discussion, appendices, acknowledgements) so that I’m ready to re-write as I get the comments.
How am I going to do this?
I am going to write every day. There is still some analysis to do, figures and tables to make, literature to read etc., but in addition to all that, I’m trying to go through some writing stuff every day. And I’ll use the #acwrimo hashtag to report my progress daily, and I’ll write something in this blog about weekly to sum up.
My writing rig is as follows. I use the amazing, awesome, and indispensable Scrivener for putting together the manuscripts. Then, depending on the required output, either port stuff to word documents or using Multimarkdown to LaTeX, after which I’ll fire up the awesome, excellent TextMate, and use that to do final edits, further LaTeX coding and compiling to PDF. No academic writing could be done without a good reference manager, in my case it is BibDesk.
OK, it’s already the 4th day, I haven’t yet started, I must run!