In the past couple of years there have been a handful of writing in public projects which aim to illuminate the academic writing process, allow writers to connect with others, and demystify the labour that goes into writing.
For example Michelle Moravec’s Writing in Public project makes visual the process that goes into writing history. She publicly shares drafts and opens her writing to critiques and comments at all stages. And the #Acwri twitter hashtag allows academic writers to connect virtually and share progress in a public space. Similarly many academic use personal blogs or websites as forums for sharing ongoing research.
I’ve recently been sharing what I’m researching, reading, and writing on twitter. So far this has been a very positive experience. Often when I’ve tweeted about an article or something I’m writing people have responded by suggesting other authors or articles to look at. This has been valuable in connecting me with a larger community of academics and has been useful in generating reading lists. It has also been encouraging to engage in conversations around my research and to have a sense of being connected to other scholars.
Writing and research can be isolating. It is almost always a solo undertaking and it’s easy to become discouraged when you hit a roadblock or you’re working on a multi-month or multi-year project. Writing in public can help make this process more open and community based. Similarly talking about and stating your writing goals publicly or participating in a writers group where you need to report your progress can help if you have problems around commitments, timelines, and motivation. When it’s public knowledge that you plan on completing something by x date you’re more likely to honour that commitment than if it’s just a deadline in your head. So, on with the writing.