A lot of writing advice focuses on how to be more productive. Write more. Write fast. Write often. Write regularly. Write better.
Do we really need this? Well, probably. Writing is important for getting a job, getting a promotion, getting a grant. And there’s no doubt that many of us are under pressure to be more productive and to write the stuff that will garner citations and prestige. So this writing advice is all well and good and useful.
#AcwriMo can be a way of achieving productivity goals. Set a word target, set a goal, finish off a big or important piece of writing, reward yourself when you get there.
But #AcWriMo might support other kinds of writing work too.
I wonder if November might be the month where we fall in love with writing. (Re)find our passion for the aspects of writing that we find pleasurable. A month where we no longer focus on the end point of the writing, but rather on what is most enjoyable about the process.
This might mean losing some of the ways that we have learnt to write. Abandoning the churn of text in favour of something more relaxed, less considered, more spontaneous and slower, maybe more focused on playing with words. It might mean a small experiment in putting the word and page counts away and just writing for writing’s sake.
I wonder if #AcWriMo might be a month where we discover new forms of writing. Where we experiment with new genres of writing. Give ourselves permission to write a haiku, to put images together with words, to write in multiple voices, to dabble with fiction. A month where we make the space to breathe and to be creative. A month where we refresh our ideas reservoir and replenish our writing repertoire.
So some of #Acwrimo might be spent seeking out those books and journals which have examples of writing differently. It might mean trying out something new each day. And it might mean finally reading that book that’s not really in your area but looks really interesting. It might mean setting up your own writing retreat where the aim is to support each other to write something out of the everyday ordinary. For the group to take risks in a nurturing space.
What if your #AcWriMo goal was not to produce pages or texts, but NOT to write them. Rather, the goal is to put the usual pressures aside in favour of just writing. To write as if the result didn’t matter. To write as if there was no audit. To write to better understand your processes of writing. To write how you’d been tempted to try, but hadn’t. Yet.
Of course, using #AcWriMo to fall in love with writing all over again and/or to experiment with new ways to write might also mean putting some writing on the back burner. Asking for an extension on a deadline. Revising the yearly publishing plan. Saying no to the invitation to contribute to someone else’s edited book or special issue.
Could #AcWriMo be the justification for the untoward act of a small writing rebellion? Sorry, I’m on a self-imposed writing refresher. Sorry, I’m running on empty and need to recharge my writing batteries. Sorry, I need to take a short break from everyday writing and do something extraordinary this month. Sorry, just pretend I’m writing what I’m expected to write this month. Sorry, I’m writing. Yes, really writing again. Here’s me in the corner writing for myself. Writing to learn. Writing to grow.
Just call me the Doctor – it’s #AcWriMo and I’m regenerating.
Photo by Christian Bass on Unsplash