AcBoWriMo started yesterday and I am working away at my promised (if slightly ambitious) word count of 2000 words a day to match Digital Critic, Charlotte Frost. This post is part of those 2000 words and is (I have convinced myself) a proactive procrastination from deciding a strategy for publications from my PhD!
The whole notion of a writing month has really got me thinking about the process of writing and how I go about it. In my teaching training, I have been encouraged to keep a Learning Autobiography, something which I think might be useful for reflecting on how I came to write the way I do, and approach writing the way I do. For me, writing has always been something I enjoy but of course fraught with frustrations and the, more than occasional need to combat lack of motivation. Writing, in all its forms, while not always perfect, really helps me to order my ideas and to try things out. I very often engage in what @PhDJedi calls active writing. I somehow get into my ‘writing zone’ and write as I read. Often I am unsure about what it is my argument is going to be and I have learnt that perfection is rarely achieved in one go.
In reflecting on my experiences as a PhD student, I quickly learnt that to get one step forward with my writing and to develop my arguments, I had to go two steps back; making the mistakes and agonising over wording and content was often what revealed the best way forward. While this was frustrating at times, it was, and remains, a challenge I relish.
From this perspective writing has always been a very individual and personal process for me. What I like about AcBoWriMo, is that we can share our writing with others and get involved with others in order to motivate ourselves. To some extent I think AcBoWriMo replicates the ways in which we work as an academic community, particularly as we publish in peer reviewed journals, but with less pressure. For me the step before sending an article off for publication is perhaps the most daunting and it is those personal communities that are engaging with my writing that aid in this process. In LEC at Lancaster, the social geographers have started up a writing group, a really useful forum to share writing and give constructive and critical feedback. I am being pro-active this term by submitting a draft of a journal article and I am planning to make the most of the session to develop my ideas even further.
On that note, check out #AcBoWriMo on Twitter and at @PhD2Published and get involved…you’ve only missed a day so far 😀