Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room and doing it. William Goldman.
The bottom line is that we all know this but if you have a paper or report to write, a thesis to complete or a proposal to develop how good are you at actually getting down to writing? Are you disciplined about sitting down and getting on with the task in hand or do you find a hundred and one more important things to do?
When you settle down with your computer to write if you need to look something up on the internet do you, 10 clicks later, find yourself engrossed in some amazing website that has absolutely nothing to do with what you were looking up? Then the things being shared in this weeks exploration may be of interest.
The first is PhD2Published which I discovered last November when I came across academic writing month (#AcWriMo). PhD2Published organises AcWriMo and describes it as an annual academic write-a-thon held every November which unites people by the common goal of developing better and more sustainable writing habits. Over 1000 people participate and, if you want to be part of a writing community, it is a fun way to feel connected as part of a global community with other academics who are in supportive, writing mode. At the start of November you declare publicly your writing goal and throughout the month a range of social media are used to help you to keep motivated and on target and to share your ups and downs. If you want to find out more here is the link and I have put a reminder in my diary to flag it up again as the time approaches.
As well as AcWriMo the PhD2Published site comprises a compilation of hundreds of blog posts organised under the headings of journal articles, books, conference papers, grants, digital publishing, academic practice and resources (websites and tools). In terms of supporting your writing whether it is an abstract for a conference, a chapter in a book or a grant application it is worth exploring this site and the resources and tools it links you to.
It was whilst I was following academic writing month that I came across 2 other writing strategies which caught my attention Pomodoro and Shut up and Write.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique which can be used as a strategy to help you maintain focus when you sit down to write. The basic principle is to work in 25 minute blocks. You set a timer for 25 minutes (and yes you can actually buy a bright red pomodoro) and write without distraction for this length of time. When time is up get up and have a 5 minute break. At the end of 5 minutes reset the timer and continue writing for another 25 minutes. If you are on a roll and string 4 pomodoros together at the end of the fourth you take a 30 minute break. There is a little more to it than that, but not much, and all of the details are on the site.
Shut up and Write Tuesdays are based around the pomodoro technique and have been developed to help academics not only structure their writing time but also connect with others. Writing can be a lonely activity and this approach, started in San Fransisco, aims to bring people together to write. The idea is to identify a suitable location and space, meet together and write in silence for an hour with a 5 minute break (2 pomodoros) and then socialise over coffee after. The rationale is that, the discipline and shared sense of purpose that comes from writing with others also keeps you accountable and reminds you that you aren’t alone. So here is a pretty straight forward idea for setting up a writing group with colleagues or fellow students.
If the shut up and write approach appeals but you don’t have a group to write with there is also a virtual Shut up and Write group on the first and third Tuesday of each month @SUWTUK. If the time for the UK session doesn’t suit check out the other times zones as there are 3 virtual groups running in different time zones.
Three resources to support your writing. As always it would be great to hear about the things you have found useful so please share.