AcWriMo summing up

Wow, that was a fast month…

So, my academic writing month started a bit late, and it also ended a week early, as I got the chance to attend a one-week MEG training session by Elekta. This was an intensive full-time course with lots of lectures and hands-on sessions, which basically meant that I had no time nor energy to write anything after the approximately 9 hours of training per day.

This probably sounds like I’m building an excuse to not have met my AcWriMo goals?

Sure, why not. I did not meet the goals as such, in that I did not submit those two articles and the one draft, and my thesis discussion is not ready yet. But, I made a lot of progress, nevertheless, and I appreciate the support that AcWriMo and everyone involved provides. This is what I achieved:

– I have a solid draft of the discussion of my dissertation. It is not ready yet and needs a lot of work, but the drafting process was fruitful and probably without the AcWriMo I would not have been motivated to do it, but rather I’d have done something else.

– I have edited the Recent Study manuscript to be 80% ready. This is a collaboration and I’m travelling to UK next week to discuss the rest with my co-author and after the trip we will be ready to submit. This was the main bit of “writing” I did for the AcWriMo. The MS is now about 6000 words shorter than when I started.

– I have thoroughly edited and debugged a script I used to analyse the data for the New Study, while also sorting my notes and I started to draft the results chapter. I presented the new analysis bits in our internal meeting today. Good progress in the analysis, but as my co-author has also been very busy with other things, the draft has not progressed yet to the point I envisaged in the beginning of the month. The script is now half of the length it was in the beginning.

– I did not touch the Old Study, which I thought was almost ready to be submitted. I hoped my supervisor would give comments and I could then finalise the draft after that, but he has not been able to read it yet. I knew he could do it only later (next week, hopefully), so I decided to not touch this paper at all.

So, in total I have fewer words than in the beginning, but they are much better ones than what I had before. In addition to these three completely separate projects, I’ve worked on one other project, producing one abstract for submission. The lesson here is that writing is a process that (at least to me) is about clarifying what the research is about, which makes writing an integral part of the research process, and the writing and data analysis very much intertwined. Being able to say things in a simpler and clearer way is a goal worth pursuing, as it will not only make the job of the reader easier, but it also makes you understand your work better. If you can’t say it clearly, you are not thinking about it clearly.

This was a positive experience and I’ve enjoyed seeing all the buzz about the AcWriMo in Twitter and in G+. I think also in the future, my work will be about juggling with multiple projects, which means that it is actually difficult to predict in the beginning of the month where the time of the coming month will go. But I think the aim in AcWriMo is admirable: you should write every day (or do something integrally related to writing, such as editing, organising notes etc.). Also I learned that even a short time can make a big difference: this exchange of messages pretty much sums it up. It was in the end a very productive 45 minutes, just as it was a pretty productive month! Thank you, AcWriMo, see you next year!

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