Hitting the wall in #AcBoWriMo

4 Nov

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I lost a document this morning. I am in the process of trying everything I can with document auto-recovery and trying to find some better ways to save documents in Word. Once I get everything sorted I am going to write a post on not trusting Word and how to improve your document handling if you’re like me and not willing to move to another word processing system.

For now though, my auto-recovery is chugging along in the background and I still have my fingers crossed so I thought now might be a good time to reflect on the idea of ‘hitting a wall’ in your writing which is something which happened to me on Tuesday.

AcBoWriMo is all about spending concentrated amounts of time on academic writing, for me the main reason why I find AcBoWriMo appealing is that I respond well to having targets, deadlines, and a metric against which to measure my progress. The problem is how I handle myself when I don’t make the progress I am hoping/expecting.

As I wrote below, my first day of AcBoWriMo was very productive I found it relatively easy to write my 1200 words quickly and without too much angst. Day Two was a completely different story. I had a full day teaching workshop, meaning that I didn’t get a chance to sit down at my desk and try and write until about 6:30pm. The first couple of hundred words were easy, and then BAM! I hit a wall and came to an abrupt stop. I was working on the 2nd chapter in my thesis and I felt like it was finished, there was nothing more to say and I didn’t know what to do.

I think I had a couple of problems.

1. I was so devoted to achieving the word count I wasn’t able to say “horay! I finished a chapter in my thesis! That is amazing! I should celebrate”. Maybe I should have just given up on the word count for the day and realised that finishing a chapter IS an achievement.

2. I’d put a lot of planning into Chapter 2 but none into what I was going to do once I finished Chapter 2 (and the answer isn’t Chapter 3). That meant that I actually didn’t have a plan about what to do next in any concrete way.

3. I’m a morning person and so by this stage I was getting close to my bedtime.


This experience means I’ll be changing how I do AcBoWriMo a little bit.

1. I want to get to my word count each day but the real goal is getting a complete draft of my thesis. Any day that I complete a chapter (or the write up of a study even if it’s only part of a chapter) I am going to take that as a major achievement and reward myself by taking the rest of the day off. I’m only aiming for 9 chapters so this obviously isn’t going to happen so often that it becomes a big problem for my overall word count.

2. I’m going to spend more time  planning what I am going to write AFTER I finish my next task. It doesn’t have to be detailed but it does have to exist.

3. I’m going to accept that I’m a nanna that goes to bed at 9pm and make sure that I focus on writing in the morning. 7am to 10am is particularly productive for me.


What have you learnt about your writing in AcBoWriMo?


3 Responses to “Hitting the wall in #AcBoWriMo”

  1. Dacia (@daciatakesnote) November 4, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Hi Emily,

    I’m on the crazy train right along with you and I’m so so sorry to hear about your Word loss. Boo to MS Word, I say! Might I offer up Dropbox as a nice way to back up your work?

    And I totally get losing sight of your accomplishments when there’s a goal to be reached.

    I haven’t learned much so far except that if I promise the internet something I stick to it more than promises made to say, you know, loved ones. I also learned that I can write anytime anywhere. It might be bad and/or nonsensical, but I can put words to a page even when it’s not the “right time.” Normally I cut off my day at 6, but I’m chucking that rule out the window just for this month to see how far I can really go.

    Good luck with everything!

    Link to dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/home

    • emilyandthelime November 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

      Hi Dacia,

      I do use Dropbox and I am a massive fan! Unfortunately the work I lost yesterday was because of unsaved work that was lost as a result of a computer crash. I am trying to come up with some ways to force MS Word to create an regular ‘saves’ rather than regular ‘auto-recovery files’ which unfortunately failed me yesterday.

      Good on you working past 6, I’m just much to much of a morning person I’d prefer to start and 5am than work til 7pm.

  2. Anna Blanch (@Goannatree) November 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    I don’t know if it is helpful but i’ve started using Scrivener instead of word. they have a free 30 day trial at the moment. One of the things that sold me what the regular (every 2 seconds, i kid you not) saves and the fact that your document is saved in multiple places! I’m sorry about the crash, that was me about a month ago…..

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