By the end of #AcWriMo…

Image by Flickr user Abee5., shared under CC
Image by Flickr user Abee5., shared under CC

“And so it is….”

November is gone, and so is AcWriMo. I promised I was going to write about my experience, and here we go.

But before I need to make a note – not an excuse! – about why this blog has been quieter than usual. Actually I think it is fair to say I expected too much for a month, and the reason why I haven’t had enough time to write on the blog lately, is because I am still finishing up my ‘AcWriMo main goal’.

So my goal for November was to finish my thesis literature review and theoretical framework (thesis Chapter 2). I have a large part of it done, but haven’t completely finished it yet. For the past month my writing goals were:

  • Week days: 5 hours per day at least (10 pomodoros)
  • Weekends: 3 hours per day at least (6 pomodoros)

For a long time I have had ‘good intentions’ of seriously working during the weekends. But it has largely been unrealistic. This is where AcWriMo really played a role. Three hours fly when they are measured in pomodoros and I have written every single day, including weekends. This means considerably more than I was doing before.

But I have also learned a lot:

  1. All I have done for the past 2 months is writing. I have been trying to be focused and make sure I get as close as possible of accomplishing my goals, if not accomplishing them all.
  2. This means I have been already under pressure. But still, AcWriMo added that little extra during the weekends that has made a lot of difference.
  3. I still set up impossible goals… Very bad! Well, maybe not actually! Setting ‘impossible goals’ makes me push myself much more than I would otherwise. This is perhaps because I haven’t realised yet what is truly impossible.
  4. I have learned a lot about planning this year. One of the things I learned is that planning has to be flexible especially when we need feedback from others. My supervisors have been great and very fast on providing their feedback, but things will change according to it anyway. Revisions on some chapters will take more and others will take less time. This is very hard to predict beforehand.
  5. However I haven’t learned how not to get frustrated with unexpected changes on the plan. By the beginning of November I had just finished writing up the results chapters. By then my plan was to devote November to reading, writing and tidying up literature review and theoretical framework. But instead I got feedback and spent 10 extra days working on that before moving on. This means to conclude Chapter 2 I had 20 days left!
  6. Thesis writing can be a winding path even when you plan and focus!

After all I agree with Rachael Cayley from Explorations of Style, “we all need less how-to and more self-knowledge”. So for all that, many many many thanks to Charlotte Frost and the PhD2Published group for organizing it! It was a great experience.

The situation is now I have four days before the end of the year holidays, and first draft of Chapter 2 will be done before I leave. I am going overseas – to my ‘Brazilian home’ – for four weeks. I know it sounds like a strange timing as I am approaching the end of my PhD, but this will be the first proper holidays after quite a long time. So no thesis writing for the next few weeks. Will try to resist!

Have you participated in AcWriMo this year? How was your experience? What did you learn?

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