Near the beginning of November, I announced my intention to jump on board with International acaDemic Writing Month. I put up a list of writing projects on which I was going to try to make some serious headway.
And my commenters asked, essentially, whether I was nuts.
My commenters are very, very smart. They hardly ever lead me astray, and this matter is no exception.
First, let me note that I did, in fact, accomplish some academic writing that I might not have without pledging that I’d be making some progress. Here’s my original list of writing projects with what I actually did noted in square brackets:
- Revise the philosophy of science paper that needs revising and send it off to the journal. [Nope.]
- Take the responsible conduct of research paper that really should be two separate papers, divide it into two papers, revise both of the descendant papers, and send them off to journals. [Didn’t happen, but I now have a clear plan for which sections of the existing paper will go to each of the descendant papers.]
- Write a full working draft of the paper outlined in longhand that I keep dragging back and forth in my backpack. [This paper has achieved a state of existence fuller than an outline but not yet at the state of a full working draft.]
- Draft two sections of the collaborative project started this summer and use these sections to nudge the collaborators back into action. [Nope.]
- Outline and draft the paper that a journal editor told me probably ought to be written by someone. [Nope.]
- Draft the essay it would be good to distribute to the “Ethics in Science” class Spring semester. [No draft, but I worked out some crucial parts of the argument in the process of writing the ethics lectures for the freshman engineering students. Currently I have a good detailed outline.]
- Work out a detailed outline of the other collaborative project in the works and send it to the collaborator. [Not yet as detailed as I’d like, but I did hammer out an outline here.]
- Write a detailed outline for the planned monograph. [Ha!]
My list was probably a reasonable set of goals for a whole semester — assuming that semester involved no new preps, and included no grader mishaps. As a set of goals for a month (or even two), it was hopelessly unrealistic.
And November? Is there a more hectic month in the semester (especially given the awkward placement of Thanksgiving)? Maybe InaDWriMo should be in March, so there’s at least a chance that attempts to write won’t be crushed by other demands on one’s time.
Ideally, of course, making progress on writing projects shouldn’t be something that only happens in one designated calendar month. And this raises an important question, one where I hope my very smart commenters will chime in with their good advice:
How do you fit writing in to the normal rhythms of your academic life?
Teaching (and grading papers), committee meetings, getting dinner on the table, all of that gets done on a regular schedule because it has to get done on a regular schedule. Writing is one of those activities that gets fit into whatever time is left. When some additional task gets thrown on your plate, the chunk of time left for writing can shrink into nothing. So, how does the writing get done?
If those of you who manage to make writing happen regularly can share your secrets, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be grateful.