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On November 1, I will begin the month-long writing marathons known as Academic Writing Month and Digital Writing Month. Both of these challenges originate from National Novel Writing Month, which challenges participants to write a book during the month of November. Academic Writing Month, last year, challenged academic to write a draft of an academic book, while this year just ask participants to set some pretty large goals and try to meet them. Digital Writing Month is challenging us to use the digital tools afforded to us here on the web to write 50,000 “Digital” words, be it tweets, code, blogs, etc.

I’ve surprisingly never participated in any of these challenges before (mind you, this is the first Digital Writing Month). I say surprisingly because, well, a “race” of sorts to see who can write the most in a month seems like a task I would be particularly well-suited for, given my already rather copious output. But November just never worked out for me in terms of time or in terms of where I was in regards to a particular project (or where I was in the semester with my grading). This year, however, is different. My grading is done for the next three weeks (give or take a draft here and there). I have two upcoming presentations for the MLA and a book manuscript to work on that isn’t going to write itself. I have lists of stray ideas and niggling topics that I want to write about and put out for feedback.

I don’t like the idea of competitions or contests to motivate my students; I find it troubling when you say things like “bonus points” and the students work harder for five extra homework points than they do on major writing assignments. And I don’t like to think of class work as a “game” because it implies winners and losers. But, I’ll be honest, I like a good challenge and some friendly competition between friends and colleagues.  There is always an excuse not to write. And this challenge has already motivated me to blow through my lingering to-do list so that November can be exclusively devoted to writing.

So, this November, I am going to “write” 50,000 digital words in the service of the following academic endeavors:

1.     NCTE Presentation (which involves Twitter and will be made public)

2.     MLA Presentation (which involves reading about openness and digital humanities)

3.     MLA Presentation (which involves Dany Laferriere and adaptation/improvisation)

4.     Literature Review for Dany Laferriere book

5.     Introduction to Dany Laferriere book

6.     Adapt my Western talk into something that can be published

My goal is to post my daily output either on my research blog or curate it over on Storify. I’m going to also be “counting” curating tweets from our NCTE roundtable, our weekly #FYCchat, as well as whatever else I can come up with. It won’t necessarily be using the full power of digital writing, but it certainly works to make my academic writing and thinking process more public. I’ll also be counting my thrice-weekly blog posts here, and whatever comments I make on other blogs/posts.

You can follow along on Twitter, with the hashtags #AcWriMo and #DigiWriMo (I’ll be using both). It works out well that I have a day “off” from teaching because of the election (I teach on Tuesday and Thursdays), which gives me three full days to start the month with a flourish of writing. Hopefully I will also get some quality writing time in over the long Thanksgiving weekend (we don’t travel – our families have all celebrated Thanksgiving back in Canada six weeks prior).

Because I’m going to win this thing. I mean, I will be productive. I’ll report back at the end of the month. 

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