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My name is Louise, and I am a binge writer

by on March 28, 2014

Last night I followed a discussion on twitter about academic writing. Although I am a follower of @acwri ‘a discussion and peer support group for all those with an interest in academic #writing’, it was the first time I properly ‘watched’ a discussion using the hashtag #acwri. My interest in this has partly been inspired by one of my PhD students, Katherine, who is writing her first academic paper, and in the process, experimenting with different writing styles.

Having had the remainder of the evening and this morning to reflect on the #acwri discussion, I have come to realise that I ‘tuned in’ to that discussion because the idea that academic writing is challenging has some resonance with me. At the beginning of this year I (publicly, via this blog) committed myself to this being a ‘writing year’ for me. The consequences of this are two-fold; 1) I am spending much more time thinking about writing and, 2) I am spending more time thinking about how much writing I am not doing. Given last night’s discussion, I am also now questioning my whole idea of having a ‘writing year’ – shouldn’t every year be a ‘writing year’?

The idea of writing small amounts, often (i.e. everyday), rather than ‘binge writing’ as I am prone to do (i.e. I often save up one or two days a week to write then get completely side-tracked from this as more urgent issues come along), is an approach advocated by people such as Pat Thompson, a frequent academic blogger, who last night admitted to writing ‘1500 + words per week blog, 3000 + on research projects’. To me, this is an astonishing word count, Pat has clearly found a method that works for her.

Inspired, this afternoon I have turned off my email, twitter, facebook and wordpress, ignored the dog (and outside, and cleaning, and baking…), and written. I have been struggling to finish off the re-writing of a paper following reviewers comments*. Following the pomodoro technique, albeit without the tomato timer, I have worked in 25 minute slots, and achieved a miraculous amount more than I think I would have otherwise. I have completely re-written one section of the paper and feel like I have accomplished something very significant, something that has been a great weight on my shoulders for the past few weeks.

I realise that today I am safely ensconced at home, and I suspect it might be easier to undertake this approach here rather than at work, I will be interested to see how well I can change how I write, and move away from binge writing. Of course, I realise that binge writing will occur, and complement more frequent bursts of activity, but I feel revitalised by the idea of taking a different approach to writing – and am looking forward to a weekend where I don’t feel guilty for neglecting the paper-writing.

*you’ll note that in addition to working on the paper, I’ve also managed to write this post 😉

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