#acwrimo is the hashtag for (mainly) PhD students taking part in a month long writing challenges during November 2012.  Essentially you choose a stupidly insane writing goal, make a plan, publicly declare your goal and track your results.  The full description can be found HERE, written by @CharlotteFrost on the fab PhD2Published blog.

My writing goal was to have a complete draft of my first chapter, which is essentially my literature review.  I’m a linear sort of writer, where I feel comfortable laying out the pieces of my conceptual framework and seeing what the whole things looks like before I move on to working with my data.  It’s my preferred approach to writing documents that are substantially long.  I thought that by joining #acwrimo I would be able to really make some in roads in what is turning out to be a really hard slog.

This goal may sound like easy (to the non-thesis writer) being “only” a chapter but, for me, it has been HELL.  The last two weeks have been a huge fog of confusion that seems to clear up, word by word, page by page, as I slowly work through the concepts I’m trying to establish.  It’s been an exceptional two weeks mainly because I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere.  Here are my reasons why:

1) Accountability:  Having a publicly declared goal and updating your daily progressonline has been very motivating for me.  I previously tried to go about it alone, doing a personal 30 day writing challenge, and when I look at the progress I made, it wasn’t nearly as much as what I’m achieving at this point simply because I was by myself.  It’s ironic in the sense that you spend hours alone working on your thesis but it’s different when you know you’ve got a goal to meet that everyone knows about.

Photo: Cushing Memorial Library and Archives / Creative Commons via parentables.howstuffworks.com

2) Structured days:  One of my progress type of goals was to spend at least 2 hours every week day and 2 hours over the weekend just focussed on writing my thesis.  In order to do this I’ve had to be incredibly organised in managing my schedule.  My responsibilities as a teacher and as a student rep take up a lot of my time and there isn’t much room to procrastinate (much…).

Photo: Heartbreak courtesy of Creative Commons via neontommy.com

3) That “this is going well” sort of feeling:  Writing a thesis is a lot like being in a relationship, some days everything just makes sense and you feel amazing.  Other days you wonder why you got together in the first place! Writing your thesis can be an emotional journey because of how much you have to invest in order to make it work.  So feeling that I’m making some progress is crucial, for me, to keep going.

So onwards to the last two weeks of #acwrimo!

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