Final post for November Writing Challenge!

Today’s is the final November Writing Challenge blog post. Well-done to everyone who accepted the Challenge and congratulations on the progress you made. Whether you managed to finish a major piece of work, or just thought about writing a bit more than you normally would, centering the processes of writing and dissemination in academic work is important.

We would like to warmly thank those academic staff and HDR students who generously contributed their reflections on their own writing processes to the November Writing Challenge blog. They are:
For those of you who were pleased with your writing progress, we congratulate you. But even if the Writing Challenge was not the rousing success you had initially hoped it would be, taking the time to think about what happened is still a useful exercise and will enable you to strengthen your approach writing in the future. In this blog post, Paul Silvia, who is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina and author of ‘How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing’, emphasises the importance of making writing a habitual, automated behavior. While the notion of scheduling writing into each day might seem ‘too obvious’ to the academic who ‘writes in binges born of deadlines and desperation’, most productive writers write regularly, during scheduled times. While the early stages of a structured writing program might be uncomfortable, painful or unevenly successful, eventually, writing will become habitual and ordinary. His view is that with persistence, writing gets better and easier. Certainly, in the face of the significant demands presented by academic work, this is a heartening message.

You might be interested to know how other Challengers fared over the last fortnight. Here is a brief summary of the result we have obtained so far from the Completion survey:

Almost every participant who submitted the survey reported that they had, at least, made some progress with their writing. 80% reported that they had either met their Writing Challenge goals or had made some good progress with their writing. Several challengers noted that it was useful to have writing centered in academic conversations, and that the support of other participating staff was valuable. HDR students highlighted the usefulness of having their supervisor at hand for solid conversations about the directions of their research.
For some participants, the Writing Challenge reminded them of the pleasure of writing. Others noted that they were more consistent with their writing because they had committed to a specific goal and had fashioned a plan of action - keeping track of time spent writing and the number of words written made them more conscious of their writing processes, and, thus, gave them more control. Some found the regular emails and the Red Writing ‘Hood blog encouraged them to push through the fortnight. A number of participants said that setting aside time for writing was absolutely integral to their success and that it would be useful to have time away from other academic pressures to focus exclusively on writing. Of course, disconnecting phones and the internet was leveled as a useful writing technique!
As would be anticipated, participants in the Writing Challenge found maintaining their writing program challenging at some points. Feedback from the survey suggests sickness, the unpredictability of the time needed to analyse data or evidence and to think through ideas, marking of student work and completing ad hoc administrative tasks interfered with regular writing practices. Setting goals that were simply too ambitious was also a problem for some participants.
Participants suggested a variety of services and activities that might support healthy, productive writing practices in the future. These included ongoing Shut Up and Write sessions, holding a writing retreat, the provision of better support for academic staff so that they are relieved of the burdens of administration, an academic writing circle, holding workshops that focus on writing techniques and the provision of individual assistance with editing and planning writing programs. We really appreciate these wonderful suggestions and will be considering their implementation in the future. If you have not had time to do the completion survey yet - please do so by clicking here. Your experiences and comments will assist us to create useful research and writing support programs for 2014.

While today's is the last Writing Challenge blog, Red Writing 'Hood will remain open and alive. We plan to continue to post useful, interesting information about academic research and writing, so subscribe or check back regularly for updates and let your peers and colleagues know we're here. Many participants indicated that they might be interested in submitting a post about their own writing experiences to the blog and we'd love to have you contribute. For more information contact RED Unit Manager Dr Jeanette Fyffe. Here is her email address:

And, finally, we would like to invite you to attend RED Writing 'Hood 'Shut Up and Write', a weekly group writing session which is held on the Bendigo campus on Wednesdays from 10-12 in HHS2 331 and 332, at Bundoora on Thursdays from 9:30am–noon in the Charles La Trobe Lounge and at Albury Wodonga on Thursdays from  9:30–noon in the Conference Room and Fridays from 9:30–noon next to the Library Training Room. All the details you need are available on the RED Unit website.

Happy writing!