AcWriMo: Aims, Ideals and Challenges

November is writing month, whether its a novel, an academic book or that grant proposal you have been putting off because of mounting pressures from work, home and life in general. But, as my stack of half-completed articles now rivals my stack of completed articles, I have finally decided that ‘enough is enough’.

Originally, I had intended to use the NaNoWriMo platform to kick start my writing cycle. I was not writing a piece of fiction, but I was aiming for 50000 words, and the freebies offered to successful writers seemed rather enticing. Yet, fortuitously  the academic twitter-verse informed me of the #AcWriMo hashtag and support network just in time. Unlike NaNoWriMo, which is hosted at a single donor-funded website, AcWriMo is more nebulous in nature, which suits me just fine.

As part of the AcWriMo accountability process, you are asked to

  1. Boldly declare you goals
  2. Outline a strategy for achieving them
  3. Keep the wider world up-to-date
  4. Don’t slack off
  5. Publicly declare your results, even if they don’t go as well as you had hoped

I began AcWriMo on schedule, with my first 1800 words dutifully completed by midnight on November 1st. Nonetheless, it is only fitting and proper that I live up to points one and two and publicly outline my aims for the month.


  1. Complete my two half-finished articles
    1. The Role of the Sydney Gazette (8000 words)
    2. Alexander MacAulay and the 18th Century Market Bubble (10000 words)
  2. Write the first draft of my guide to using Social Network Theory in Historical Research (20000 words)
  3. Complete my two overdue book reviews (2000 words)
  4. Write up every article or book I read in a proper academic fashion (for later inclusion in my upcoming monograph / articles) (10000 words)

For a grand total of 50000 words of academic writing in a single month. Crazy, perhaps, but that’s the point isn’t it?



  1. Write between 2000 and 3000 words every non-teaching day (Wed-Sun)
  2. Vary what project I am working on (Never more than 1000 words on any one project, unless I’m in the zone)
  3. Keep myself honest via my AcWriMo Tracker
  4. Publish all my literature review-ettes (for the greater good and to ensure sufficient quality)


The Story so Far

According to the above, I should, as of this morning, be the proud owner of roughly 8000 words of academic text. Alas, this is not so. Unfortunately, owing to a combination of left over Halloween Chocolate (not enough trick-or-treaters this year) and upcoming grant deadlines (which I did not including in my 50000 words) I was not able to focus on AcWriMo writing this past Friday. Fortunately, my 2000-3000 words-a-day does allow a bit of flexibility: 4000 extra words by month’s end. So,

Will I make it to the finish line?

Will the Gazette and MacAulay ever make it to print?

Will I become hopeless entangled in a social network diagram of my own making?

Tune in next week, same Demography time, same Demography channel.

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