Update: NaThiWriMo Take 2

It’s been a while since I posted a blog anywhere, but the silence on here has been deafening of late. Even the CFPs have dried up on here, mostly because I’m on a self-imposed conference paper ban and have therefore been avoiding checking CFPs so that I don’t feel I’m missing out. (Edit: I’ve just posted a CFP. It’s a conference about Heroes and Monsters and I couldn’t help myself. *shrug*)

For now the main thing I am doing is writing and trying to stop myself from getting distracted. Last year I posted up about using the NaNoWriMo fever to inspire and focus work on the thesis. As happens with many good NaNo intentions every year for a number, this quickly fell by the wayside for me. This year I haven’t made an formal commitment to writing to the extent that NaNoers do, but I have written for the thesis every day with a minimum output of 500 words. I had hoped to do more, but so far since the start of November I have managed a little under 13,000 words. In light of the NaNoers I know who are posting 20-30,000 words by this stage it doesn’t seem like a lot but it is the most intense burst of writing I’ve had in quite a while, and I still have a good couple of weeks to go before I have to come out of my writing cave.

My strategy for writing up, as it turns out that’s what you call this panicked fluster at this stage on the PhD is getting words on paper. I’ve given myself a loose target and calculated what I need to do on average each day to achieve it. At the beginning of each day I write down in my notebook my updated word count from the previous day’s writing and stick a post-it note on my laptop with my new starting point. This means that I don’t think in big numbers, just in the hundreds and that focus on quantity has managed to, for the most part, suppress the urges of my inner editor.

It’s definitely a case of quantity over quality, but since the stress about getting ‘good’ words is what paralyzed me for most of the second half of this year that’s a good thing. It is, I think, the very spirit of NaNoWriMo to get over the fear that what you write will not live up to that perfect shining idea that you held in your head and construct something real.

Perhaps, if I’m very lucky, I’ll finally be able to do the same with my beautiful, untouched novel this time next year. But not if I don’t get back to the thesis right now.

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