November was the Academic Writing Month #acwrimo for those of us in higher ed, and there are so many stories tell. This year, we followed the experience of Dr Dani Arigo, Assistant Professor of Psychology, The University of Scranton. In her previous post, she shared her reasons for joining #acwrimo, her previous fruitful experience, and her expectation for this year. How did she fare?
Sadly, 2015’s Academic Writing Month is over. Time to report in!
As you may remember, I have an active research program in Clinical Health Psychology, focused on preventing and treating eating and weight disorders. Given that my primary role is teaching, however, my Novembers are especially busy, and I find it more difficult than usual to stay on track with ongoing projects. This year, I had some additional distractions: was out of town for a conference November 4th-9th, I was scheduled to present my research to the faculty at my institution for the first time (November 20th), and I had a series of medical appointments throughout the month. (These were just check-ups, but time consuming.) My #AcWriMo goals were:
(1) Finish specific aims and candidate statement for a new grant proposal,
(2) Finish drafts of two manuscripts with students (Introduction through Results), and
(3) Submit a brief internal grant proposal.
Process (which often is more difficult for me to stick to):
(1) Write for two hours on each of three days per week (Tuesday, Thursday, and either Saturday or Sunday),
(2) Spend one of these writing sessions at a coffee shop off campus (per week), and
(3) Keep my #AcWriMo Google form updated/check in on Twitter.
The month started out great; I spent Day 1 at a coffee shop and made considerable progress on my aims. I spent my next writing day prepping for the conference (where I gave a presentation), and then I was off. Presentation went reasonably well, but I returned to PA with a terrible sore throat. Spent a week with laryngitis, during which time I made some progress on a student co-authored manuscript and finished the short internal grant proposal. That week, I did spend less time writing than I had hoped. But I realized that I was more efficient with – and I got more enjoyment out of – the time that I did spend writing.
Although I usually take pleasure in my research time, I looked forward to the writing tasks more so than usual. And my ideas flowed much more easily than when I took several days between writing sessions. This is the advice that the most productive people give regarding their output: make a writing schedule and keep to it (a la Robert Boice, Paul Silva, @tanyaboza, @raulpacheco). As they suggest, writing seemed easier when I did it more regularly – and I’m pretty sure the writing quality is better than when I wrote in bursts. I even found myself writing during off-hours (which I tagged #unexpectedacwri). So I plan to keep this up through AcWriAdv (Academic Writing Advent) and Intersession (January at my institution). I also connected with some great people along the way, including @meganehatch, @llmunroe, and @EllieMackin, to whom I am indebted for their support.
I kept up this schedule through the last two weeks of November. After 45+ #AcWriMo tweets and four blog posts, I ended the month with these products:
(1) Drafts of specific aims and candidate statement for a new grant proposal (both to be edited),
(2) Draft of one manuscript with students (entire manuscript, though the other got held up), and
(3) Submission of a brief internal grant proposal (which I received!).*
Plus some extra excitement about writing, and my research presentation went quite well. All told, another successful #AcWriMo! Can’t wait for 2016.
*I REALLY need to start counting new words generated!
Read more from Dani at thisislife101.blogspot.com. Dani Arigo is an Assistant Professor of Psychology, The University of Scranton (Scranton, PA, USA). She is also a Licensed Psychologist in the Commonwealth of PA. You can follow her on Twitter @DaniArigo (her lab @UofSHealthPsych)
Feature Photo by “Negative Space” on Unsplash