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Along with the benefit of achieving my writing goal for the month, I learned so many things from my experience with Samar’s November writing challenge that improved my academic production tremendously.

This semester was the first one in my PhD program where I did not have several courses to take where at the end, I would submit a research paper of about 15-20 pages length. I had been used to this and knew when to read, when to write, and how much time it will take me to do so.

When I had to start working on my dissertation this semester, which is the longest academic research form that I could think of, the dynamics changed. I needed to figure out a new routine because now there is an adviser involved that needs to provide feedback on my writing, there’s the huge literature review section that needs certain skills to be done thoroughly, and there’s the other responsibilities such as teaching and assisting that needed to be taken care of along with all of this.

When Samar started this challenge I kept an excel document where I logged in the type of work I did along with the word count. I realized that there were several days where I mostly read articles. Following those days I would write way more than the maximum limit for the day, but feel very exhausted and nearly burned out when I am done. Moreover, I found it very difficult to start the following day or session.

Moments of November Writing Challenge

Moments of my life during November 2014

Through my participation in Samar’s November writing challenge I recognized what was not working and changed it:

  • For instance, I broke down my long working hours into shorter 3 hour sessions with a short 10 minute break between them (sometimes the actual productive time is less than that but I didn’t leave my desk or open Twitter etc. during the session).
  • Another thing I did was changing perspective of what I considered as productive writing. Now I realize that typing notes is actually writing. I always associated it with reading and hence, always felt that I don’t write enough!
  • Also, I learned to utilize dictation tools (microphone icon on the keyboard of digital devices). I always thought it would not really save much time since it won’t be accurate. But when I tried it, I was amazed. What took me, roughly speaking, 30 minutes to type, takes me 10 minutes including editing to dictate.
    Lastly, I figured out the benefit of keeping a research diary in relation to writing. When I am really stuck on what to write I found writing a diary entry very helpful to break the mental barrier of suffering from a writer’s block. I could easily write 250-400 words in less than half an hour. Sometimes, ideas get generated while writing a diary entry!

For all of these benefits I am thankful that I participated in Samar’s November writing challenge.

Note: This is a diary entry of 500+ Words that was not intended to be shared but I guess Samar needs to know how helpful her blog, ideas, and challenges are. So thank you Samar Almossa for all that you do for your fellow novel researchers.

شكرًا سمر الموسى، جعله الله في موازين حسناتك

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