Posts Tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

I posted last week about my academic writing goals for November. Now I’m going to try to come up with a timetable and a more precise plan. I’m long-term ill (progressive MS-like illness), and severely disabled as a result, so I can’t put in vast amounts of time. But I can focus attention and my limited good patches on those areas I want to make most progress in, and that’s my plan. I’ll tend to be working in short bursts in the evenings, but hope to manage to do what I want to do at those times.

First up are my two PhD-derived papers, which I need to finish and submit soon. Both are rewrites of existing work, so shouldn’t take too long in theory. So those are my first goals. I’ll aim to have both in a near-submission state by November 15th, though I may need to do more work after to rework the style for the intended journals, since each journal has its own rules about layout style, number formats, and footnote and reference formats. Paper 1 looks at professionals and book use in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Scotland. Paper 2 is a comparison of reading habits in Scotland and England at this time. Paper 2 is shorter, so I should try to have that ready for submission sooner, say November 8th. This way both papers should be submitted in November.

My third paper priority for November is my paper based on my MPhil dissertation, which looked at regality court records (sort of equivalent to English manorial court, but more powerful, and very large geographic area) for Melrose in Roxburghshire, south-east Scotland, in 1657-1706. I’ve already edited down my dissertation drastically to get near to academic journal paper length. What I need to do is finish reading books and papers about comparable research, and arguing effectively for where my research fits in, and what its contribution is. I can start doing the reading early in November, and take it slowly (as with other things due to the neurological illness I can only tackle reading in short bursts), and then aim to finish this, let’s call it Paper 3, by November 22nd. That will be aiming to reach pre-submission stage, where I might still need to do more work re formatting, journal house style etc.

The other thing that I mentioned in my goals post was to move my text adventure game onwards. It’s a historical whodunnit, set at Hermitage Castle in the Scottish Borders in the fifteenth century. I’ve set up the geography of the place, with rooms you can wander around as a player, but where I really need to work is to move on the plot. That’s a slow process. Text adventures are interactive, and there’s more writing and reaction to provide than in a traditional piece of fiction. But if I work on this slowly, throughout the month, I should be able to edge things onwards, one step at a time. This game will not be finished in November, but I will aim to have moved the plot and interaction on substantially by November 30th, to carry on with it at a later date.

So those are my more precise goals with deadlines, and an order/strategy for working through them in my limited time. Fingers crossed it works!

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NaNoWriMo is a well-established annual event now, with lots of people signing up to write novels in the 30 days of November. Others use the month for smaller projects though, like PicoWriMo, and some use it for an academic writing blitz. That’s my plan.

I have a couple of journal papers I need to finish soon to submit well ahead of the April 2013 open access deadline. Again I’m in favour of open access, but not the way it is being implemented by the UK Government and Research Councils. If I don’t submit these papers soon I’ll be unable to publish them, or will be greatly restricted in where I can publish, and would have to pay a hefty article processing charge (to cover the open access cost implications for the journal publishers) out of my own pocket. This APC cost varies by journal, sometimes as low (!) as 500 pounds, but can be 2000 pounds or higher. And as an independent scholar without access to university support – beyond my honorary research fellowship which I’m very grateful for – I must pay this myself. Ouch. These two papers are the remaining ones derived directly from my PhD research, and since that was AHRC-funded, it comes under the new UK open access rules which apply to anything submitted after April 2013. Hence my looming deadline.

Another top priority for blitzing in November is a long-standing journal paper I’ve been working on, based on my MPhil dissertation looking at Melrose regality court records between 1657 and 1706. I was very proud of this dissertation, and was the first student in that taught PG Masters course to get a distinction. When I look back on it I still think it’s good work, and worthy of being published in a good journal. So that’s my plan. I’m trimming a much-longer-than-journal-papers dissertation down to journal length, properly contextualising it in the wider research context, and doing the necessary reading to bring myself up to date. This paper doesn’t have the open access deadline problem, because I self-funded my PG Masters and can thus publish the findings in any academic journal, without restriction, and without needing to pay a hefty up-front APC cost from April onwards.

I have a few more journal papers in preparation but they can wait until after November. Another thing I want to look at in November is the text adventure game I’m currently writing. I’ve made a good start on it, and have mind-mapped the overall plot structure, but need to start filling in more detail and move it on. Text adventures are a form of fiction, but interactive, where you control the central character, so it’s quite an exciting medium to write in. I’m writing my game in Inform 7.

Apart from these things I’ve a couple of short non-fiction articles to move forward, and want to blitz them in the month too. They shouldn’t take very long, and are fun little projects to work on.

I’m quite excited by these writing plans. Autumn is my favourite time of year, and it always feels like a fresh start and I feel quite energised by it. So this year I will turn that energy into something useful.

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