For anyone who has been reading my blog for a while, you know that I post a new update every-other Friday. Coincidently enough, today ended up being the day chosen for my dissertation proposal defense. As the defense is scheduled for 11 a.m. CST, this post will go up a few hours later than usual. Still, I thought today would be the perfect day to describe Illinois State University’s PhD program requirements for English graduate students. The dissertation element itself won’t be discussed, but the five steps leading up to it can provide insight for anyone reading who’s interested in applying to ISU’s program or is looking for ideas for creating/revising PhD requirements at their own institutions. Now that I’m a PhD candidate (baring a bit of paperwork), I’m excited to share my thoughts on what I’ve experienced in the last (almost) four academic years.
The month of November has arrived, and with it another reminder that I don’t have the time I’d like to devote to attempting NaNoWriMo. For anyone unfamiliar with this challenge, it’s the National Novel Writing Month challenge, in which participants attempt to write 50,000 words (a novel draft, or at least the start to one) in one month. I tried this challenge once in high school, but only wrote about 23,000 words (nothing to sneeze at, but nowhere near the actual goal). This November, however, I’m going to attempt a personalized version of the academic writing equivalent, #AcWriMo. I’m not going to attempt to write 50,000 words of an academic project, but I am challenging myself to be more academically productive this month.
On Facebook, I’m part of this amazing group created for and by academic women. In it, we offer each other support and advice related to life in-and-outside of academic settings. We also host a 10 day writing challenge at the beginning of each month. This month, a second challenge will extend through the rest of the month, for those of us who want to participate in AcWriMo. In our group, the goal is to achieve at least 15 minutes of writing every day, rain or shine, motivated or not. A small goal, perhaps, but one I really appreciate for its ability to make me feel like I can accomplish something important to my career every day without also feeling like a giant ball of stress. It’s rare for me to stop at 15 minutes when I participate in these 10 day challenges. And yet, outside of them, I can often go days without doing any academic writing. External accountability, it seems, does wonders for my writing productivity.