Wednesday, November 26, 2014

#AcWriMo - Academic Writing Month (Part 3)

AmbivalenceAs #AcWriMo2014 winds down, I have mixed impressions of my success. I produced what I set out to (and then some), which is gratifying during such a busy time of year. As planned, I:
  • Completed and submitted a teaching enhancement grant application
  • Completed and submitted my first year self-report
  • Finished and submitted two in-progress papers (including my first solo-authored!)
  • Make significant progress on a (major) revise and resubmit invitation for my dissertation manuscript
I also submitted four conference abstracts (three with student co-authors), attended the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies conference to present two posters (one an Obesity & Eating Disorders SIG citation selection), and received word that my submission to the Society of Behavioral Medicine annual meeting was accepted as a paper presentation. All of this is fantastic, and I'm delighted to share the success with students.

Up next, I'll find out whether my department votes to keep me (i.e., the result of my first year report) on Tuesday, December 2nd; I'll hear about the teaching grant sometime before the end of the semester (December 16th). Manuscript submissions? As always, it's anyone's guess. (Though very nice to have them on someone else's plate, so they can linger for a while without complaint from me.) I hope to send the R&R off to co-authors for feedback in the next few days.

So why the ambivalence, if I met my goals? The goal that I didn't meet had much less to to with outcome than with process: I committed to writing for one hour per day (or two half hours), and as noted, I did not meet this goal 2-3 days per week. Even after recommitting to blocking out time, the MWF teaching/office hours/seminar schedule got the best of me. I did meet my goal on two of four Mondays and one of four Wednesdays and Fridays, which is decent considering everything else going on. But every blog, book, and tweet about being a productive writer, from productive writers, recommends a daily writing habit, and there is something alluring about such consistency. 

Perhaps what #AcWriMo has taught me is that I don't need daily writing to be "productive" at my desired level. I can continue to strive for this goal or knuckle down when I need to finish something, but beating myself up isn't necessary. Maybe relief, or disbelief, is manifesting as ambivalence? Either way, maybe it's time to lighten up.

Credit where it is due. I'm immensely grateful to Charlotte Frost at PhD2Published, who started the initiative, and to the hundreds of academics who posted tweets of progress and support. Especially @ATRWibben, @JosephsonJyl, and @iladylayla (aka the Global #AcWri Team) for their company and encouragement during writing episodes. Being part of the community has made the frenzy of #AcWriMo enjoyable. Sign me up for next year!

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