I knew this month was coming, but I had been unsure about whether I’d participate. Too much happening at work, too much at home, too much worry, too much stress, too much that I don’t do or accomplish. Excuses. Why? I love to write. I love to blog. I love to think, so why would this obligation, this thing that I do for myself, why would it add too much to my exponentially growing pile of toos?
My emotional space is rife for this; I need time to reflect. Think. Meditate. So this day, on the 2nd day of #acwrimo and #digiwrimo, I’m jumping in head first. I’ve revived this blog, and I’m going to revive that other one, too. My goals are much simpler than they were two years ago. I’m okay with that. I just need to do one thing: write.
It has been decided.
Last week was kind of ridiculous. Out three days sick, and the others play catch up, and of course writing gets put on the back burner. Today with a candidate visit means that no writing or research was accomplished either. This is all together frustrating. Even though it’s the week before the break, I have meetings and obligations– those things that we were too busy to touch before. I’ve gotten out of the swing of writing, and #acwrimo just ended a few weeks ago!
Of course, like any true academic, I have a list of things that I’d like to accomplish between now and the beginning of next term. Making this list here will (I hope) keep me accountable for achieving them.
- Catch up on RSS feeds
- Read “to read” labeled items in Evernote
- Read Planning the Oregon Way; Portland: Planning, Politics, and Growth in a 20th Century City; and My Life in France
- Incorporate feedback into lit review article and get it in shape for another read from colleagues prior to submission
- Help M. get the group editorial posted at Lead Pipe
- Prepare guest lecture on open peer review (scheduled for Jan 11th)
- Start draft of comments for ACRL panel, investigate our next deadline, and begin communications with co-panelists
I have a week and a half. How am I going to get this done? Rise early and dedicate work time. Even on the weekends. Perhaps I should prioritize this list. I’mfeelingsooverwhelmed.
I’ve been trying to make the most of every moment. Since today began with a tickle in the back of my throat and the weather was windy and wet, I opted for the bus instead of a scooter ride. The plan? Bring my laptop and engage my writing pomodoros on the route to and from work. Less time in the office on a Friday and multitasking? Yes, please.
The idea is to make those uncomfortable 15, 20, and 30 minute chunks of time meaningful, purposeful and productive. And sitting on the bus just happens to fit into that category chunks of time throughout the day spent, usually, unproductively.
It’s not the best writing environment, but this morning I was able to get through some decent editing of a few pages, and this evening I got at least a page of incipient thoughts on this grant proposal. Not bad for the start and stop and bumps of Friday traffic. Not too bad if I can keep the motion sickness at bay. Not too bad as an occasional tactic for productivity, though I’m not sure I could tackle this daily.
Friday, November 30th was the concluding day for both Academic Writing Month and Digital Writing Month. For me it was thirty days of building writing habits, thinking and reading about writing, and exercising my academic and personal writing muscles. It was also thirty days of community. I sent tweets went into the ether and sometimes they were re-tweeted.
Did I meet all of my goals? Of course not. So what did I accomplish? I finished a first draft of an article I’ve been meaning to write for about a year. With a co-author I completed and submitted an article for review. (It will be published December 12th after review, revisions and edits.) I wrote approximately 7 hours a week (or more). This blog will somehow become an article, and my brain has welcomed several other ideas for future writing endeavors.
What I did not expect from this month is how much I have came to enjoy the quiet community of it. I knew all of this was organized through twitter, blogs, and other social media. I knew there would be tweetchats and hundreds of individuals doing this same thing–blogging the month. Even though my participation felt minimal and I was a stranger to these other academics and writers and they strangers to me (though I found my sister and a library colleague participating at the beginning of the month), I became attached. My morning routine, which has always involved a cup of coffee and the internet, incorporated checking the twitter streams for #acwrimo and #digiwrimo to find East coasters and Europeans and Australians who had been up and writing and tweeting for hours before me. My evenings became more solitary as I took to my office to write here and at my personal blog instead of going to happy hour or watching too much television or who knows what else.
And the pride I felt when someone from the community would re-tweet me! Maybe I AM good at this writing thing. Maybe THIS is what I need to nourish right now. Throughout the month there have been nuggets of discovery about my writing, my goals as an academic and myself as a person-who-loves-crafting-words-into-more. Of course these discoveries aren’t earth shattering. There was that poetry contest I won in the 4th grade. There are endless paper journals from my youth. There was LiveJournal in college and beyond.
And here’s how it ended. The final task assigned for Digital Writing Month was a twitter essay. I wrote:
Writing digitally occupies tenuous spaces between communicating & thinking; hearing & listening; & emerging as self #twitteressay #digiwrimo
I’ve emerged less tentative, stronger in my convictions. I have a renewed sense of how much I value the act of construction words into sentences into paragraphs that mean something. I know more than ever that I want to be, in addition to all that I already am, a Writer.
Nothing. I did nothing today. And I’m glad I didn’t because it was one of those days where I felt better for not trying, because nothing good would have come out of it anyway. Instead, I get to write this post so close to the end of my first #acwrimo about how on the next to last day I didn’t accomplish anything because I had cramps and a headache and everything seemed to go wrong anyway. On these days not writing that academic paper, not visiting the editing of that meta-analysis is probably the best thing, because it will send you over the edge. And tomorrow is a new and better day. And tomorrow is the last day, so something will be accomplished.
It’s the last week of Academic Writing Month and Digital Writing Month and I am tired. This Thanksgiving weekend took it out of me with hosting and socializing and the imminent return to work. Now I find that my slack is most liable to occur in these reflections and at my personal blog.
To combat it I’ve attempted shorter pieces this week, less intentional reflections, the writing of which certainly subvert the whole process. My attention is not keen, but these reflections are multi-tasked, much like this evening’s, which is written to the background of Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly.
But today my co-authored article was submitted to reviewers, and I’m looking forward to the week’s break without concentrating on two bits of academic writing instead of two. And with two days remaining, the last realistic goal I have, to send the draft manuscript of my meta-analysis may or may not be accomplished. Whom do I trust to read it? (oh he did NOT just help her into the carriage? *gasp*)
And who is this little librarian, barely an Assistant Professor, to submit such a huge piece of work to this journal? And yet this is my work. I have to carve my niche; my competitive side emerges. I can’t even begin to think about the submission process, since my energies need to be spent in this first draft.
After the toddies at dinner and with this feature film distraction, I’m happy to escape and continue this evening’s slack. Tomorrow will bring more time to edit, and Friday, too.
Returning again to the meta-analysis after a break to prepare a different article for reviewers… and the meta-analysis is killing me. I don’t know where to go and I’m rereading my words that are utter crap. I’m not sure of how to organize the work, what is too much and what is just right. Ugh.
In a fit of frustration I printed the 14 pages of text, sat in my orange chair with the reading lamp on, and took a pen to the first page and a half. Then my pomodoro timer rang. And I felt better. I just might be able to make sense of this mess, after all.