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Your are cordially invited to join me for SchoWriMo!

As many may know, November is the “National Novel Writing Month” where participants try to write a novel (defined as 175-pages/50,000-words) during this month (see What is NaNoWriMo? for more details). As an academic, this concept always intrigued me, but didn’t work for me for three main reasons:

  • I don’t have the time to try and write a novel pre-tenure; my writing time should be dedicated to scholarly publications.
  • Also, quality is not a Nanowrimo issues–word count is. As a scholarly writer quality is more of a concern. (While I understand the reasoning length is important, I think shooting for length would undermine scholarly writing… could go off on a tangent here, but I’ll restrain myself, unless you want to read it.)
  • Scholarly writing often includes a lot of other work; lit reviews, research analysis, and so on; which also don’t fit into the Nanowrimo concept easily.

So, I have previously not joined the crazy fun of Nanowrimo. However, this November I propose a scholarly version. Will you join me for SchoWriMo (Scholarly Writing Month)? What is SchoWriMo?

  • The goal is to spend serious time in November writing. As many writers of scholarly texts, novels, or other forms will state, the most important thing one can do as a writer is write regularly. So, SchoWriMo is based on this general concept: writing regularly. There are thirty days in November, so I propose an hour a day or at least thirty hours of writing for November. Since the idea is to write regularly, one should not just sit down in 3-4 days and pound out 30 hours. Ideally this will be an hour a day, 7 days a week, for November. Thanksgiving and other days may come up when writing is particularly hard, so, how about being able to make up one day/hour of writing on any other day, but no more than one? This means if someone needs to make up for the Thanksgiving hour, they can spend two hours the day before, but can’t spend three that day to also cover the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  • Many scholarly writers set aside time each week to write and I don’t want to lose these focused writing times. So, for those of you who do this, I recommend you keep these and just add writing an hour on all the days where writing has not already been planned. I, for instance, tend to make Fridays my writing day, and still will, but I will also take an hour each other day of the week to write.
  • With the rule of making up only one additional day per day, this means these planned longer stretches of writing are still there, only supported by additional writing on other days. The SchoWriMo hours should not be deducted from normal writing time. This is good. This way, even those of us with planned regular writing will get more writing out of this task.

Types of writing: What counts?
Here are my thoughts on what should count are “writing”. Since “writing” in academic includes a lot of non-writing activities, such as reading the literature, analyzing research, making visuals, and so on, what should “count”? This is just my idea, if you do this, feel free to do your own thing. But for what I will “count”:

  • Actual writing: obviously
  • Data analysis
  • Formatting the document
  • Putting together and formatting the references pages
  • Anything that contributes to a scholarly publication: As the goal is to get work done on a scholarly publication I will not count blogging, writing for classes I am teaching, or anything else that doesn’t lead to further development of my scholarly contributions to the field (as counted by my tenure guidelines). I also will not count reading the literature for my literature reviews, as these don’t as directly relate to my writing progress. I will use other times for these.
  • For students, I would not recommend including writing for class unless it is a paper or project that you plan to publish or present at at some conference. Your writing too should be something that works towards a scholarly publication–a line on the CV. So, if you plan to publish or present the final paper or media project you are creating for my class, then writing for this “counts”. But, I would not count writing for a paper or reading responses or other types of writing that you do not plan to take beyond the class.
  • Medium/media are not important: If you are writing for a print publication, a hypertext, a video, or a podcast, this still counts as “writing”, as I have loosely defined it here, as long as it moves your scholarship forward. For instance, I am working on an article I plan to publish in a peer reviewed journal and this article happens to be in podcast form. Writing the script for this, recording it, and editing it will all count as “writing” as it will move my scholarship forward.
  • Am I missing anything?

So, this is what I will be doing in November. For those of you who are academics, care to join me? For those of you are not, is there something else you could do instead? Perhaps there is a project you are working on–say a quilt–and you could do QuiSewMo. Or maybe you play an instrument and should practice an hour a day? Or perhaps you have a blog you need to blog more on, and want to try blogging a hour each day–or podcasting, bike riding, running, getting an extra hour of sleep each night… whatever. I encourage you to join me, whether it be SchoWriMo or something else. I especially encourage my graduate students so they can get that writing done they need to be doing. And I likewise encourage my pre-tenure colleagues. But anyone, whether a scholarly writer or marathon runner are welcome to join.

Wanna join the fun?

How do I officially join?
I’ve put together a Google docs spreadsheet. To join, email me (jbowie@screenspace.org or jennifer.l.bowie@gmail.com) and I will share it with you. Then simply log in and record your hours. At the end of the month, we can see who has successfully completed SchoWriMo or their alternative. You can even win a prize! I’ll offer a prize to those who complete their hours, or, more likely randomly draw from among those who complete and give them a prize. That is, if I don’t do this alone. The prize will be Inappropriate On Purpose the first album of my favorite steampunk rock band, The Extraordinary Contraptions. Do note, the band is not sponsoring this; I am buying their album for the winner. If any of you out there want to sponsor another prize, I’d be happy to take you up on the sponsorship!

So, join me for the fun and craziness!

2 Responses to “NaNoWriMo for the Rest of Us: Scholarly Writing & More Month”

[...] This short podcast is an abridged version of my longer invitation and discussion of this idea I posted on Screen Space. Go to Screen Space Click on the SchoWriMo category link to find the longer post or look around the …. [...]

[...] perhaps in blogs or for academic publications. A professor I know has started the SchoWriMo (see http://screenspace.org/?p=141 Scholarly Writing Month). She wanted to take part but since her career depends on her scholarly [...]

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