by John Parkin
As I look back on Academic Writing Month, I reflect on what went well, what I could have done better and what I will try to carry on. For those who do not know, Academic Writing Month (or #AcWriMo) is held annually in November and gives academics and doctoral students the permission and focus to concentrate their efforts on academic writing in whatever form that may take.
I am a Senior Lecturer Practitioner in Education and also completing my EdD part-time, so it always a challenge trying to balance teaching and research commitments. Over the summer, I had managed to find some time to write, but with a busy term starting in September I really struggled to find the time for the academic writing I knew I needed to do. I was getting worried that I would only be able to find time to write in the summer and my EdD would never be finished!
The SRHE sent out a newsletter which mentioned Academic Writing Month activities they were organising over the month of November. I thought I would give it a try and see if it could help me develop some better writing habits.
I joined the first online session organised by the SRHE and run by Gillian Chu (who also blogged for SRHE recently) which I found to be really useful. We talked about what #AcWriMo and the importance of setting targets, both on a weekly basis in terms of either words or time spent writing and outputs I would like to achieve by the end of the month. I was also introduced to a shared Excel document where I could record my targets and the number of words I had written. The session also had time for attendees to work on some academic writing. Earlier in the year, I had attended some SRHE Power Hour of Writing sessions. I find this sort of online writing session really useful as I tend to find writing a solitary task and that I benefit from writing with other people in a community.
Over the month, I managed to get some writing for my EdD – I managed to write a positionality statement and part of my literature review. I really benefited from having some clear targets and some for how much I wanted to write each week. For a few weeks over the month, my aims were far too optimistic! However, taking part in #AcWriMo got me writing again and not worrying about when I was going to find time to write.
Overall, I found it really useful to participate in #AcWriMo. It managed to get me doing some academic writing this academic year and helped me carve out time to do this. If I can manage to do it for a month, then I feel more optimistic I can find time during the rest of the year too. I am looking forward to joining other SRHE writing events in the future such as the Power Hour of Writing. Having tried #AcWriMo for the first time, I will definitely be doing it next year as well!
John Parkin is a Senior Lecturer Practitioner in Education at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Peterborough. He is also the Course Leader of the BA Primary Education Studies course. Before becoming an academic in 2018, John was an assistant headteacher and primary teacher. Most of his teaching experience has been as an Early Years teacher. John is also a doctoral researcher exploring the experiences of men training to become primary teachers.