Authors: Sarah Honeychurch, Nathalie Tasler and Alison McCandlish
During the month of November some of us in the UofG SoTL Network have been participating in SoTLWriMo. Inspired by other initiatives such as NaNoWriMo and AcWriMo, this was a collaborative endeavour to try to write regularly and motivate ourselves and each other throughout the month.
We shared various strategies with each other before the month began, such as setting aside dedicated time each day (however small) or using sets of prompts to inspire us (see the post linked above for some of those), and also talked about keeping some sort of reflective log or diary to see what worked and what didn’t. We also discussed the possibility of writing about the process itself and writing a collaborative reflection after the end of November, and we brainstormed a set of prompts to help us to structure that:
- What was your goal?
- What was your strategy?
- Did you use any of the SoTL prompts (or any others?)
- What worked/didn’t work?
- What will you carry on doing? (What won’t you carry on doing?)
- What did you achieve?
- How did this process make you feel?
- Are there any tips you would give to colleagues based on your experiences during SoTLWriMo?
At the time of writing November has not (quite) ended, so we have not had the chance to share our full reflections with each other. Here’s some initial thoughts from each of us:
Sarah: my first goal was to finish revisions to a paper and get it off my desk so I could participate properly. Very unusually for me I did this 6 days early – so that’s a definite win for me! The other strategy that worked for me was to set aside some time each day for a reflective log of what I had done – even if this was just a scribbled sentence, and then to spend some time over the weekend looking back over these notes and writing up a longer reflective note. I found this was very relaxing, and also gave me a sense of how much more I was actually achieving than I thought.
Alison: I had several intentions for #SoTLWriMo, declared on our Teams site to encourage me to do them (tip 1: public declarations = accountability and deadlines). Tip 2 is tracking and celebrating the small wins (and bigger ones); I have successfully completed a blog, a piece of creative writing, a funding application, an article review and most of a book review. My last quick tip is a combination of two things.. Brain dumps and pomodoro timers with your animal of choice in split screen mode 😊
Nathalie: I did not have a clear goal this year for the writing month as November came up much faster than anticipated. So I decided to simply move with the ebb and flow of the days and weeks.
While I haven’t use the prompts directly for writing, the process of developing and engaging with the prompts, and learning about potential AI writing buddies provided me with incentives. One blog post I managed to publish relatively early on, and then it was much about creating structures, and support mechanisms for writing. So I used the idea of the prompts and set up a daily reflective journal, for my end of day writing, creating 4 single word prompts for the end of a day, which are: Joy, Drama, Achievement, Connection.
Drama here I see in the sense of tensions, excitement, problems etc. I wanted to use a word that is not as laden as ‘problem’ or ‘issues’. Drama has this theatrical hue to it, which to me immediately takes the seriousness out of something and looks at it one step removed. Achievement, was important as sometimes a day can feel as if nothing much happened but when we look at all the things we have done, emails answered, student requests supported, administrative tasks completed the day was more productive than it may have felt. Joy and Connection are all about gratefulness, recalling the small and bigger joys of the day, the connections made with colleagues, friends, family, nature etc. Come to think of it Drama and Achievement are also about gratefulness, because in Drama there is often learning, or connections through support networks, and Achievement is the joy of purpose.
Regular writing was a struggle this year. What worked very well, based on the AI writing buddy suggestion, was to actually body double with one of the other editors from oSoTL and once a week in November we body doubled for an hour to get all our editorial work done. That was successful. I will be carrying on the daily journal, maybe changing some of the prompts with time, so here any suggestions for one-word prompts are welcome. And we will definitely carry on the body doubling.
I achieved many little things, daily journal, editorial tasks, two blog posts one of my own blog and one for the UofGSoTL advent calendar, finishing a book chapter revision, editing a journal article. So small things that still move writing forward.
To me having accountability process and peer support in place feels calming. It provides anchor points particularly during the very stressful phases of the semester.
My tips for others is just keep writing. Even if it is just one sentence or two, or you are voice recording your thoughts, or sketchnoting ideas. Just keep moving little by little.