All in for AcWriMo 2014

November is just around the corner, which means once again it’s time for AcWriMo! For those who don’t know, AcWriMo is the academic’s version of NaNoWriMo (in which people pledge to write a novel during the month of November). The academic version is a bit more fluid—participants set their own academic writing goals for the month, declare these publicly, then write write write “like there’s no December!”.

I’ll admit that I waffled a bit on whether to participate or not this year. I’ve participated the past 2 years, with considerably more success in 2012 than in 2013. I already know it’s going to be a busy, busy month. And yet, I sort of need a kick in the pants as far as my research goes—I’ve stalled a bit and have been spinning my wheels, so if properly executed, this challenge might just get me unstuck and moving forward again.

So, I’ve decided I’m in!

I have 2 goals this month:

  1. Revise my failed NSF proposal from 2012. This was the plan for last year, but ultimately I was not able to revise the grant sufficiently enough for resubmission. I need and want to resubmit it this year. My goal here is to get as much of the narrative and supporting documents done as possible, meet with our awesome grants person, figure out where the holes are, and make a concrete, specific plan to fill in those holes before the deadline (and, more realistically, before I have to start reviewing applications for our tenure-track job, in mid-December).
  2. Draft my next conference paper. I have nothing in the publication pipeline right now. There’s some old data that I’ve never written up for publication, and I sense that some of our newer work might be almost ready to send out. The work-in-progress paper that we successfully submitted this summer shows me that there’s definite interest in our new work, so the sooner I can get some of this data out, the better.

Up until last week, I was really good about protecting my research time (although I don’t always spend this time productively—see “spinning my wheels”, above), and I already have time blocked out on my calendar for research 3 days a week. I plan on carving out a bit more time (20-30 minutes) on my busier days (Tuesdays and Thursdays), and carving out some time on Sunday evenings as well (which I’m hoping will set the mood for the week).

To combat some of the problems I had last year making progress, I plan on having specific, measurable goals/tasks for each writing session (word count, sections revised, checklist written, etc), which I’ll try and set out every week in advance. I’m also going to embrace the strategy of writing as a means of figuring out what to do next, i.e. start with drafting a section as a means of figuring out what data I need, how I will present it, etc. I think this will be the key to get me unstuck in my current work. I’ve done this with great success in the past, so I just need to get back into this habit (and then follow through with actually doing the rest of the work!).

You can follow my AcWriMo exploits on Twitter (@drcsiz), or follow AcWriMo more broadly on Twitter using the hashtag #acwrimo.

Here’s hoping for a productive November!

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