Each year I try (and usually fail) to participate in #AcWriMo, and write a corresponding post on this blog. You can read 2014’s and 2015’s posts here and here. This year, I had a vague #AcWriMo plan. As ever, I wanted to write more, but I didn’t have specific goals and I wasn’t at a point in my research process where I could spend a full month writing many thousands of words. What I did end up doing this year however, ended up being even more important than my previous frustrated attempts at participation. Inspired by a twitter conversation with @LucieWhitmore we set up a weekly writing group, something that has completely changed my attitude towards writing.
I’ve written before about being a habitual binge writer. Someone who spends vast chunks of time writing and revising in advance of an ever-looming deadline. I don’t write daily. There’s always a valid reason: too much teaching prep, too many emails, too many job applications to do instead. And this term has been no exception – I’ve been teaching five classes a week on two different courses, and have fired off numerous job and fellowship applications since October. What has made the difference however, is the writing group, which has made writing a non-negotiable part of my week. Like teaching, writing is now deliberately and specifically factored in to my week. I can’t not attend, as I’ll be letting my fellow group members down. I can’t do anything else whilst there but write, thanks to the gentle peer-pressure that attendance exerts. It’s this non-negotiability that is so important. Writing was always the first thing to go, but now (thanks to twice weekly sessions) I know I have dedicated writing time each week.
The group roughly employs the format from TORCH’s own Academic Writing Group, which you can find more information about here. There’s a lot of great literature on starting you own academic writing group available online, but this post on Pat Thomson’s blog Patter is an excellent starting point.
For me, our little Writing Group has fixed an issue that I was long trying to achieve via my participation in #AcWriMo – establishing better writing routines. And while I’m not quite at the point of maintaining a daily writing practice, this seems more achievable than ever before.