Following the lead of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) some enterprising folks came up with AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month). The idea is that you commit to a certain academic writing goal, and resolve to work steadily at it for the entire month of November. As with all goal-setting projects, the key is to pick something laudatory yet achievable. Having comrades working on similar projects helps with motivation and communal support. There’s a spreadsheet that will allow you to see what others are trying to achieve, and where everyone can post the day’s triumphs (or minor disasters, as the case may be.) Several people in the fields of classics or ancient studies who are on twitter have set themselves AcWriMo challenges, and I’ve tried to collect a list of them, if you want to know whom to cheer on (or add yourself). To follow everyone from every discpline, use the #acwrimo hashtag.
I am going to do AcWriMo myself, with the goal of making over my doctoral dissertation, left unfinished at about the turn of 2001-2002, into an article that can be submitted for publication. My topic was surface and subsurface archaeological methodology at Archaia Nemea Tsoungiza, a prehistoric Greek site excavated by a Bryn Mawr College team in the 1980s. Three chapters of the dissertation will form the basis of my article. Two of them were written and polished, and need only to be edited both for length and context and to take into consideration new scholarship published in the past decade. (There is this 9-pound, 1200-page book by Dan Pullen that is relevant…). The third chapter was about 3/4 finished, but not polished. There, I need to re-examine my data set and write up my conclusions for the last chronological period, then edit the heck out of the entire chapter.
In preparation, I have downloaded and installed a free 60-day trial of ArcGIS. (First task accomplished!) Next I need to get my 10 year old shapefiles in there and hope there is no serious data corruption, and see what I remember about using a GIS. My plan is to work simultaneously at getting back up to speed with the GIS analysis while editing the already-polished chapters. I’m setting the goal of working for two hours a day – mostly 10am-12pm – weekdays during November. While I am not employed right now, and in theory have about 6 hours a day that could be spent productively, I know my work habits are better in short, focused bursts. Give me a goal of six hours working a day and I guarantee I will spend it all faffing about on the internet. Another big challenge is that my November looks like this: traveling to a conference, then chairing the Scholastic Book Fair at my kids’ school, then Thanksgiving, then my husband goes to China for 10 days. But there’s actually a great freedom in this project for me – I already “failed” at it, by never finishing my dissertation, so hopefully everything from here on out is kind of a bonus.