For me, institutional reading rooms—the old and new reading rooms at the Folger or the Rare Books & Music Reading Room at the British Library, for example—are the best places to work, and not only because they minimize the distractions that come with working at home or in my department office. I thrive on the energy of those quietly working around me and, I'll admit, the thought of my neighbors catching a glimpse of Twitter or email open on my screen. Whether they know it or not, others sharing the space hold me accountable to my research agenda and, more importantly, writing goals. That's the reason why I installed myself in the special collections reading room of my PhD-granting university to write the last two chapters and introduction of my dissertation, and it's why I've been finding ways to replicate the sense of shared endeavor virtually for the past few months.
At the beginning of last semester, I started organizing fairly regular, but informal, weekly writing accountability sessions with a few colleagues using social media. I've found that three-hour blocks are perfect—enough time to make progress but not long enough to take the pressure off. (I don't do well with a "full day of writing" ahead of me, so breaking it down into manageable chunks that permit me to gain momentum really helps.) I typically tweet when I'm starting and ask others who want to participate to check in when they join in and when they're done—publicly, privately, or not at all. For many people, having to report to someone helps them stay accountable, but for some (like me, most of the time), it's enough to know that they're writing concurrently with others.
All this said, please consider joining. For Spring 2016, I'll be reaching out for writing accountability partners on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon EST and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. EST via Twitter—I'm [at] roaringgirle—but obviously anyone can do this any time. This is a low-stakes, low-pressure setup:
- Join in for some or all of the session.
- Tweet to let us know you're there by using the hashtag #writingaccountability. (If you're not on Twitter, feel free to email me or someone else you know is participating.)
- Report back at the end of the session (or intermittently throughout the session) only if it helps.
- Academic and non-academic writers are welcome.
- "Writing" is a capacious activity. Drafting, outlining, editing, revising, &c, all count, as does teaching-related writing (syllabi, assignments, &c).
So, are you in?