Both are really exciting initiatives: NaNoWriMo is the National (or International?) Novel Writing Month, aiming to get people to focus on writing a novel in 30 days. The other is the academic equivalent, AcWriMo, which is a little more flexible in its terms, but also tries to get participants to write a paper, a proposal or a revise something that has been hiding in the back of the closet for too long….
Both adhere to the same principles: they are gamifying the writing experience, and are turning this essentially solitary activity into a social activity shared amongst friends, coauthors and strangers working on similar projects. Both require setting a target, and rely on public accountability of participants to show that they are meeting their targets.
NaNoWriMo is more technically advanced, and uses lots of gamification ideas on its website: For example, it has badges for successful completion of milestones, forums, virtual support circles, prep talks. AcWriMo is less technically advanced, and relies heavily on twitter hashtags and shared Google documents for support and accountability. Of course, AcWriMo is also much smaller then NaNoWriMo and is run entirely by other academics who presumably have many other things to do than build extensive websites and support tools.
Nevertheless, both seem popular with me and my colleagues. The academic version appears to be a good way to get over the start of the semester, and all the work and stress that goes with it, and to get serious about writing for the rest of the year. So I can see, how it is a really attractive option for people wanting to kickstart their academic writing “with a bit of help from their friends”.
NaNoWriMo on the other side if the fantastic opportunity to take a break from concentrating only on academic writing, and to focus or refocus on writing as a fun and entertaining way to communicate. So both are really good option to get you into a writing routine, or to remind you why writing can and should be a lot of fun – rather than something that academics have to do for a living.
I still haven’t made up my mind which one to join this year, but let me know which one is your favourite. Whichever one it is: good luck with your writing!