It’s nearly November. And that means its AcWriMo. Academic Writing Month. The idea of Acwrimo is to use the month of November to make major headway on a big writing project. Or to kick start a writing project. Or to get your writing started again.
Another possibility is to use the start of AcWriMo to take a fresh look at your writing. And the stuff you are writing about. To take a moment out to review where you are and what you might do now. More of the same? Something different?
If you have a load of things you are in the middle of, like me, then reviewing does mean that you need to interrupt your current production schedule. So you need something quick. And if you’ve been having trouble sticking to your schedule, like me, then maybe moving away from it just for a minute might help.
Here are ten ideas for thinking afresh about what you are writing about – your research. Yes, these ideas involve more writing. But it’s writing just for you and only for as long as it’s interesting. And maybe useful. Just pick one of these and have a bit of a play.
- Make a list of all of the things about your research that you find really fascinating. Then pick one and write more about it.
- Write about the worst thing that happened during your research.
- Write about the thing you love most about your research.
- Brainstorm a possible list of amusing and/or preposterous titles for your current writing project – try using numbers, colours, song titles, alliterative titles.
- Find an everyday metaphor that sums up an important aspect of your research process or results – for example, meal, ladder, fog, box, river, key, gate, rock, mountain, window, knot…
- Write about the process of generating data – the smell of the library, doing an interview while you were hungry, being distracted by the signs on the wall when you were meant to be observing, feeling sad while listening…
- Write about your research using the starter… If only….
- List the turning point or points in your research. Pick one and write about it.
- Write about the most boring aspect of your research.
- Imagine that you conducted your research in a parallel universe. Write about what happened differently. Are there things that you can’t say about your parallel universe because you don’t know about them from your actual research? Now write about this.
When you’ve finished one, you might like to try another. Not compulsory. But it is helpful to have a look at what you’ve written to see whether taking a sideways look at your research has produced any new insights. Or any writing that might be usefully moved into your ongoing writing projects.
Activities largely adapted from Margaret Geraghty’s The five minute writer.