We writers are a funny group of people. We have big ideas piling up about the books and papers we’ll write, but how many hours a week do we actually spend writing? If you’re like me, you spend more time eating than writing.
Then, along came National Novel Writing Month, which challenged would-be fiction writers to put aside the excuses (and the snacks), sit down, and write that novel. NaNoWriMo, as it is now affectionately referred to, has gathered a huge following. Over 340,000 participants last year pledged to write 50,000 words of a fiction novel in 30 days.
We non-fiction writers felt a little left out. So, we launched our own writing party. Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo, as we have dubbed it) challenges academics and non-fiction writers to spend the month of November to write more than we’ve ever written before in the next 30 days.
Why should you turn your life upside down in November to write like crazy?
You are here, reading this blog, because you are a writer, seeking inspiration, help, and guidance. Writing is important to you. The research and message you hope to share with other drive you forward in life.
But you spend most of your day not writing.
That makes no sense. If writing is important to you, you absolutely must create time and space for your writing.
Otherwise, what’s the point of this life?
The point of life is not the usual stuff that you do on a normal, unproductive day. Steven Pressfield, in Do the Work, writes about why you don’t achieve the goals you have set for yourself. He says we all face “the Resistance.” You have a negative force that is within you, but is not truly you, and the force prevents progress toward your life ambition. The Resistance encourages you to check email frequently, to work on urgent but unimportant matters, and to watch TV rather than pursue your life’s passion. Those moments when you choose to not work on your most important goals because you get distracted, you'd rather relax, or you just don't really think your crazy idea will ever work? That's the Resistance.
November is the month to kick the Resistance out. November is the month to pursue your life’s passion, with all the productivity you can muster, for 30 days straight. November is the month to write like you have always wanted to write.
I believe you can do it.
How do you participate in AcWriMo?
1. Set yourself some crazy goals.
Your goal doesn't have to be 50,000 words in a month, but it should feel crazy to you. AcWriMo suggests aiming for more than your typical quota. My goal: 1,000 words a day. I’m not writing a non-fiction book or article at the moment. I think I’ll concentrate on developing some more awesome content for you guys, my Paper Raven Editing readers.
2. Publicly declare your participation and goals.
Tweet using the #AcWriMo tag, post on your blog, or tell your mom.
3. Draft a strategy.
I made a AcWriMo Google calendar, where I've blocked off times each day for writing. I’m getting up earlier, spending 30 minutes at lunch writing, and cutting my evening relaxing time in half. I can squeeze in 2 full hours of writing with minimal disruption to my normal day. See a screenshot of my Google cal below. Even if you can only commit to an extra 30-45 minutes, go for it. Do everything within your power to write faithfully every day this month. Decide on your writing goal ahead of time. To which book, article, or project will you dedicate AcWriMo?
4. Discuss what you’re doing.
I’m planning to tweet my day’s progress and keep a log of how many minutes I actually spend writing each day. You could also ask a friend to embark on this crazy AcWriMo journey with you and check in regularly.
5. Don’t slack off.
It’s 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days.
6. Publicly declare your results – and please be honest!
I’ll post at the end of AcWriMo to let you know how I felt about the whole writing experiment.
Read the original post about AcWriMo on the PhD2Published blog, here: http://www.phd2published.com/2012/10/15/announcing-acwrimo/
What do you think? The gauntlet has been thrown down. Will you accept the challenge? Yay or nay, let me know in the comments below.
Also, here's my AcWriMo calendar below. What will your AcWriMo calendar look like?