Time for #acwrimo!

It’s hard to believe, but November is almost upon us. And with November comes AcWriMo, that annual frenzy of academic writing virtually hosted by PhD2Published. I participated in this last year and found it tremendously helpful for my accountability and productivity: I finished a draft of my grant proposal, sent it out for review, and filled in some of the other sections as well. 

Setting my goals for AcWriMo has been tricky this year. It’s not like I wasn’t busy last year, but this year my busy-ness has grown to new and frightening heights. I alluded to this in my last post: with my service commitments and being chair and the new prep and everything else going on, I’ve struggled mightily to keep up this term. (Let’s not even talk about how far behind I am with grading.) I have had a very hard time finding regular time for research this term, and this is highly unusual for me, self-appointed Queen of the Pomodoro. At the same time, I am very cognizant of the need for self-care and the damage that trying to do and be everything takes on me—about three years ago, I tried to do and be everything and ended up having a series of panic attacks over a period of months. It took me a long time and some therapy to unlearn the habits that got me to that point, and I’m not keen to fall back into those habits.

So, how do I make goals that push myself a bit out of my comfort zone, while at the same time taking into account my crazy current life?

I’ve decided to focus more on time goals this time around, because I think that’s something I can manage. I don’t have the time or space for open-endedness right now. But knowing myself, I also need some “larger” goal to keep me focused during my daily “research sprints”. I’m also going to go “off-script” a bit and have some of my goals focus on research rather than writing, although as often happens I do write up as I go along, so there will be writing, rest assured.

Enough already! Here are my 2013 AcWriMo goals:

  1. Spend at least 30 minutes a day (6 days a week) on research or research writing. Since this is a bit longer than a pomodoro, I’m calling each 30 minutes I spend a “research sprint”.
  2. Finish all of the major experiments that I need for my grant resubmission. (And write up the results as I go along.)
  3. Draft an outline/plan for the rest of the grant narrative revisions. I have a tentative outline at this point, but I’d like to flesh it out more fully so that I can just start filling in the blanks in December.

I think this is a good mix of manageable and ambitious. I’m excited to start—bring on November!

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