|Image created by Tseen Khoo using Adobe Firefly
Well, that was quite the few weeks! And now it's over.
November - AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month) - was full of events and sessions, and we encouraged folks to set goals and find ways to be helpfully accountable for them. It's a bit of a whirlwind, as those who participated across the month will testify.
But what happens when it's all over, like now?
It can be difficult to maintain the momentum that you've set for the month to reach your goals when the writing festival ends and life and work distractions return to previous levels.
The intention of this post is not to imply that you should all be writing across summer rather than relaxing into a well-earned break. It is for those who would like to continue the momentum they gained through November, or who may have pressing deadlines early in the new year that mean they need to maintain their writing mojo. Sometimes, it can feel better to keep things on the radar and get things done in smaller pieces.
Below are a few ideas to help you find ways to continue post-November productiveness, especially as we go into the 'summer holidays' (in inverted commas because parents whose kids are home from school every day across this time may beg to differ).
At their heart, these suggestions provide ways for you to boost the sense of community and accountability around you. They don't seek to change your routines or processes in any radical way and, most often, they are things that can be sustained across your changing routines whether we're in an active semester or not.
Long live SUAW (Shut Up and Write)
We often wax lyrical about the fabulous opportunities SUAW sessions offer and I'm going to do it again here. If you're a stalwart, you already know what I mean and you can skip to the next suggestion. Those of you who've never tried SUAW, whether out of trepidation or because this is the first you've heard of it, give it a go.
I've had a few people ask questions about how things work at SUAW and here are a couple things worth clarifying for those who have yet to try it:
- It's informal and organic. You don't have to stay for a whole session and no-one 'monitors' you. Many researchers come along even if they have teaching or regular meetings that overlap with the session - it's the regularity of showing up and getting some work done that is an ingredient in the secret sauce.
- You can be as social as you want. This means you can choose not to chat at all (though we're all kinda friendly 😀), or work through breaks if you're on a roll with your work. Hosts provide a general structure but you can tweak it for yourself however you'd like.
As one of my original SUAW buddies Kate Warren said, "#SUAW really helped my productivity and confidence in writing my thesis, and the best part has been establishing a network of like-minded researchers, even if they are often in completely different fields" (Shut up and Write - so hot right now: Part 2). This writing community that works alongside you during your thesis often follows you even after you've submitted the dissertation. It's a precious, wonderful thing indeed.
If coming along to one of our sessions where there's a group of researchers isn't something that you can do regularly, or if it's not your cup of tea, you can still DIY SUAW. Our keenest SUAW folks swear by structured study/writing sessions on YouTube that do the timing for you (e.g. The Sherry Formula)
To sequester focused writing time and leave yourself otherwise footloose and enjoying the summer sunshine, you might consider a writing retreat or three. There is no limit to these and they don't have to be events organised by others - you can DIY a writing retreat to whatever scope you want. It could just be you and one other person, a few friends/colleagues, or your whole department. They could be in person or online. Get creative, or go with the basics - it's in your hands!
Some DIY retreat inspiration for you:
- Here's one I prepared earlier! It talked about how you can engage with our facilitated retreat and still be with your own crew - you can just drop us from the equation and use the ideas for running something on your own: Make the retreat experience your own
- Residential writing retreats: three wishes for academic output (by Bronwyn Eager)
- Academic Writing Retreats: A Facilitator's Guide (by Barbara Grant) - this guide is available at La Trobe Library
If you don't necessarily need to write with others but you'd like to have clarity and encouragement for your writing goals and progress, you can line up an accountability buddy. Regular SUAW goers can often lean on the group as a bunch of folks to whom they are accountable about their goals. For you to set up your own version of that, it could be this simple:
- Ask a friend or group of friends to get involved - it can be just you checking in with them, or you could all check in with each other.
- Have a set time that you've set goals for and have weekly (or fornightly, or monthly...) check-ins where you report back on:
- what has been achieved
- what derailed or distracted you (and what might stop that happening again)
- what you want to get done by the next check-in.
That's it. And if you can't meet (in person or online), you can just phone or email a check-in. There are many ways to make it suit your schedule and keep it regular.
Another idea that's a bit more involved and can work across a longer span of time is to set up a "Monthly Weeklies group" (by Jonathan Williams).
Other AcWriMo blogposts that may interest you:
- 2023: Make the retreat experience your own
- 2023: Writing with your supervisor after completion
- 2023: Reflections on running a writing retreat for Indigenous researchers
- All Academic Writing Month - AcWriMo - posts (delve into the treasure trove of entries from past years!)