As I recently mentioned on Mastodon, I’m going to try doing Academic Writing Month (aka “AcWriMo”; a fellow traveler of National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo”) this year. Here I’m detailing my approach—I’ll likely also update this with my progress throughout the experiment.
La Lucha Continúa
My most consistent writing challenge has always been that writing anything longer than a blog post involves a noticeable state shift. I move—sometimes with effort, sometimes all-too-effortlessly—from mild-mannered riotnrrrd mode to superhuman hyperfocus mode, and occasionally veer into full-on ADHD lasereyes goblin mode.
This routinely produces good class & conference papers, but isn’t exactly compatible with what one might call responsible adulting.
So the crux of my dilemma: how to flip my brain into writing mode in sustainable ways that are in fact compatible with responsible adulting?
Here are this year’s AcWriMo experiment parameters, written up somewhat as a Fluxus piece:
- Aspire to get into the “writing headspace” for 30 minutes to an hour every other day, i.e. Mon or Tue, Wed or Thu, Fri or Sat., through November 2023.
- Track the attempts. Probably share the progress & results.
- “Writing headspace” here ≅ “successfully opened up my writing app and/or successfully annotated readings in one of my two reading apps.”
As you can see, this is taking a process-based approach, not a product-based one. The aim is to see how much I can make a habit of writing in rally mode (i.e. sustained movement) rather than sprinting mode.
To provide more structure and internal support, I’ve made myself a set of tasks, using Obsidian’s Tasks plugin. Whatever stands a good chance of supporting beneficial progress, right?
Obsidian & Tasks Details
While I haven’t yet written a post or note about the Tasks plugin specifically, it’s essentially what has drawn me from Dendron to Obsidian. [Update on 2023-11-29: I now have written about how I currently use the Tasks plugin. I don’t repeat much of what’s below in that other note, so reading both might be worth your while if you’re interested in that aspect of Obsidian.]
So here I’ll detail how I’m using Tasks to help out with AcWriMo2023, in case you’re the sort of person who appreciates worked examples. If you’re also an Obsidian user, maybe it’ll be a useful example of how you might approach projects & to-dos, using the Tasks plugin?
Here’s a link to the project tracking file I’ve made for this month’s challenge. Please adapt it to your own use as you’d like! (Here’s a link direct to the file’s raw view, if you just want to copy & paste it from your browser without seeing all the GitHub interface.)
A few important use/configuration notes:
- I use
#ttas a global filter for Tasks. This tells the plugin not to track every single line that starts with a
- [ ]checkbox, but only pay attention to the ones that start with
- [ ] #tt. I’ll explain my reasons further in that eventual note, but for now, you’ll likely want to find & delete all of those tags, or find & replace them all with your own global filter if you use one.
- I have
#td/writingas an additional tag on each of these tasks. Using this sort of tag lets me use
#tdas a tag for all my “todo” tasks, then use the
/whatevercontent to create subsets to display anywhere I want to have a Tasks query. Again, I’ll eventually explain this further; for now, I’m just giving any potential users of this a heads up.
- I’ve also included the due dates for my own purposes. Again, you’ll want to change those for your own scenario. I’m just sharing all this, both to document it for Future Me and to help provide potential structures for anyone else who wants to give AcWriMo a go, last-minute.
- There’s a Tasks query included in the file, under the
Tasks Viewheading. This will display all the tasks on this very file, putting them in a dynamic pane that lets you change dates and interact with things more handily than you can with the Markdown / text view alone.
- I feel like way too many people approach Obsidian as though there’s a single “correct way” to use it for tasks or projects. If you’ve read this far—and especially if you’re actually considering using my file—please approach it just as a springboard for your own experimentation. What I think might work for me, right now, isn’t guaranteed to work for me—let alone for you! I’d love it if you let me know that you found it handy or inspiring, of course.
Good luck finding what might work for you!