During the first term I have had the pleasure of a sabbatical in order to write my second book. It has been a super time of reading, writing and travelling around giving talks, attending conferences and promoting the first book. But one of the most beneficial aspects of my sabbatical has been my participation in AcWrMo (Academic Writing Month). NaNoWriMo has existed for a number of years, challenging participants to write 50,000 words of that promised novel in a month. Now academia has jumped onboard through the website PhD2Published and on Twitter through the ‘acwri’ hashtag.
Focusing just on writing through November has been a challenge but extraordinarily profitable. The new book now has 32,000 words (ish). I have also completed a funding application, constructed a four year research plan, begun the proposal and sample chapter for the third monograph and written three chapter/conference paper proposals. The supportive online network created is dominated by early career academics with a welcome smattering of more experienced colleagues who have been a constant source of advice. Through this process I have learnt that writing a little everyday is how I work best and I am determined to maintain this pattern when I return to teaching in January. I have also learnt the importance of mutual mentoring and have been amazed at participants’ constant positivity. Although academia is a competitive profession, this doesn’t prevent us from encouraging one another.
And December? Well after a month of writing, a dedicated month of reading sounded nice and I was asked to write a post for PhD2Published about my BoReMo (Book Reading Month). If this month and a bit has taught me anything it is that setting our own research challenges in a supportive environment really does lead to more productive days.