Writing productively during #AcWriMo

Image credit: Raul Pacheco-Vega

November is Academic Writing Month or #AcWriMo.  Set an academic writing goal, and work alongside the online #AcWriMo community to achieve your goal.  We have talked about setting an appropriate goal for #AcWriMo in a previous post, so this year, we’re going to look at being a productive writer, to help you reach those carefully set goals.

Boice (1997) identified four habits for productive academic writers:

  1. Write something even if you don’t feel ready.  Establish momentum in your writing session.  Try an exercise like free-writing.
  2. Write little and often instead of in large blocks.
  3. Release physical tension with regular stretches and counteract negative thoughts about your writing activity/ability.
  4. Seek feedback regularly.

As with all good habits, it may take a bit of work to embed these into your routine, but #AcWriMo is as good a time as any to try to establish these good habits in your work.

However, there are still times for all of us (approaching your thesis submission date is an obvious one!) where we do need to produce large quantities of text within a fixed time period.  If you have set yourself an ambitious goal for #AcWriMo, then some additional productivity tools may come in handy.  Here are some you might try.

  • Word count targets:  Pacemaker helps you divide your overall word count goal into a daily target based on your work preferences and tracks your progress.  Written? Kitten! rewards you as you produce words.
  • Planning tools:  Trello can be used for your to-do lists or to structure your sections of writing.  Other to-do list apps.
  • Writing sessions:  use a productivity technique such as Pomodoro to structure your work time for maximum productivity.  See also Shut up and work.
  • Writing environment:  Find what works for you, which may not be your usual work-space.  Try the Researcher Suite on the 1st floor of the Main Library.  Background noise can reduce distractions and increase creativity – try myNoise or Coffitivity.  Block or limit distracting websites (e.g. StayFocusd).
  • Increase self-awareness:  RescueTime helps you understand what you’re spending your time on (and can be used to block time-sink webpages).

What are your favourite writing productivity tips?  What is your goal for #AcWriMo and how are you planning to meet it?


Boice, R. (1997). Strategies for enhancing scholarly productivity.  IN:  Moxley, J. M. and Taylor, T. (eds). Writing and publishing for academic authors.  2nd ed.  Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham, MD.  In the Library.

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Helen Kara

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