November has become National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, when participants try to write an entire novel (50,000 words) in the space of a single month. There are forums, Twitter hashtags, and an official website to help authors along as they complete this first draft - and emphasis is placed on just getting the words out, not on final draft perfection, which is the most important part in writing.
Inspired by NaNoWriMo, the blog PhD2Published started AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month) for those of us who would love to participate in NaNoWriMo... but have too many other writing obligations hanging over our heads. Like journal articles. Dissertations. Reports. Grant proposals. And it's not just limited to grad students or established academics - undergrads working on theses or term papers are encouraged to participate and interact with the other participants, and learn good research and writing skills from the resources provided.
I saw the AcWriMo hashtag on Twitter last year, but wasn't in a good place research-wise or mentally to participate. In late 2011 my dissertation topic blew up in my face. I won't go into details, but basically I lost two-and-a-half years of research. I was left questioning why I was still doing this PhD and what I was doing with my life. This contributed to the horrible period of depression I experienced in 2013. As a result, I didn't get much work done on my new dissertation topic.
This year I am ready to participate and have already signed up on the official spreadsheet. I need to finish my PhD proposal - this should have been finished over a year ago, I should have been defending right when I was shutting down from depression. Which only made me feel worse... So I am focusing on completing that this month. I am already 30% done with the writing - unlike NaNoWriMo, this isn't about starting and finishing a piece of writing within one month, but about making progress on something that maybe has been neglected or whittling away at the to-do list.
I would LOVE to participate in NaNoWriMo - I have so many ideas! - but this needs to come first. My goal is to finish my proposal and send it to my committee on December 1st. I won't be around much on here or Twitter - I'm going into hermit mode. Haven't done that since I was finishing my Masters thesis! I pre-wrote all my Five Fandom Friday posts for this month and will be taking a few hours every weekend for myself, because I have been in the academic world long enough that I know I need a little time for myself to craft or play on my PC or something. I'm pretty sure everyone needs that, it's just so easy to forget when you have a big work project or a major deadline looming.
Good luck to anyone participating in NaNoWriMo or AcWriMo!