Thursday, 2 May 2013

Chartership Portfolio Writing Month - 1st May - 31st May 2013 - 30 days and nights of portflio writing joy and abandon

You're all familiar with #ChaPoWriMo now aren't you?

You're not?

If you've not come across it before, it was an idea created by Helen Murphy in November 2012, creatively adapting the idea from National Novel Writing Month to complete an outrageously impossible task in one month - Write a novel. The birth of Chartership Portfolio Writing Month is documented in a Storify by Emma Davidson

For those of us attempting to complete a portfolio to submit for Certification, Chartership or Revalidation, the process can often feel just as daunting as writing a novel.

I didn't take part in the first cohort of #ChaPoWriMo graduates. I forget why. There was something else I had to do. There always seems to be something else I have to do. Which is why this time I realised I really needed to buckle down and get on with it if I were ever to hand something in.

So. I've decided I really shouldn't get distracted and sign up for Coursera's Introduction to Data Science. Bank Holiday Monday will not be spent doing the garden and decorating the hallway. And I need to stop pulling faces at the Body of Professional Skills and Knowledge, take a deep breath and fill it in.

I have a silly fear. It's a fear of showing people work I've done. It's a fear of that work being criticised and ripped apart. And it's a fear that it won't be good enough. Every time I hit 'publish' on a blog post, I hold my breath. Who is going to respond and tell me what I've written is nonsense? The idea of sending something to my perfectly lovely, honest and very supportive mentor worries me. (Even though I actively sought her out for feedback when she previously my line manager, I trusted her so much.) So I hold off. Then when I do have to send her something, it has to be perfect - because I've been sat on it for so long. So nothing gets sent.

On top of that, life in general, just gets in the way. So I start something. And six weeks later, come back to it, scratch my head and wonder what on earth I was doing. By the time I've got back in to the swing of it, it's 2.00am in the morning, the seven-year-old is due to get up in two hours and I've started a cycle of sleep deprivation that takes me days to recover from and means it's another few weeks before I'm brave enough to look at it again.

This time. It's going to be different. It needs to be manageable. So I've set myself a target of 1 hour a day, 5 days a week. Anything else I do on top of that is a bonus. I'm going to write down the specific tasks I want to achieve - and look back at the end of May and see how well I did. Here goes...

  • I need to get organised and make it easier to dip in and out of portfolio work when I have the odd half an hour between leaving work and dashing to school to pick up the kid. Most of my digital evidence is stored in Dropbox, but I know I've got a few pieces floating around both at work and on my home computer. I've already signed up to 'I done this' and use this to record what I work on (or delete the daily reminder with a guilty click!), but I could probably sync it to my Google Calendar and get smarter about collecting evidence using Evernote or a Google form to enable me to share it with my mentor.
  • I have three boxes of printed stuff. Collected from projects and Continuing Professional Development going back to 2003. I'm not going to be able to use all of it for my evidence, but I at least need to have a better understanding of what it is, and which criteria it fits. It's no good. I need a matrix. Anything that isn't suitable for inclusion needs to be scanned, filed and discarded. (gulp)
  • Implement light touch project planning techniques. I want to map out my route to completing my portfolio with a clear set of tasks and milestones so I can track progress. It also means that if I have to abandon the work for a few weeks, I can come back to it and pick it up with a bit more ease. I need to implement a daily/weekly/monthly routine so that good habits are formed and it feels a little easier to manage.
  • I've recently mapped all my experience, skills and knowledge to a set of capabilities, giving me a dataset of examples to use when applying for jobs and revising for interviews. I'm wondering if I can re-purpose this for my portfolio.
  • My CV currently weighs in at seven pages. I need to seriously cull it and whip it into a much slimmer shape to meet the guidance of four pages.
  • I need to read Reflective Practice : Writing and Professional Development. And actually put it in to practice. I've read a lot of books over the past two years about marketing, digital libraries, data librarianship and metadata. But  haven't built on reading the books by writing a review and reflecting on the contents. I need to develop better book habits rather than just furiously reading it as fast as I can before I need to return it to the library, scribbling a few notes in my 'CPD notebook' and forgetting about it.
A lot of this feels like a student's way of revising for an exam - making a pretty timetable and spending far too much time deciding on a colour scheme. But I'm hoping that starting afresh and creating some good habits will make the rest of the process easier - and that the enthusiasm for completing my portfolio will continue long after 31st May has been and gone. I need to find the joy in writing the portfolio.

As for the word 'ChaPoWriMo', it reminds me of Julie Andrews singing Do Re Mi from the Sound of Music. That's my earworm sorted for the month then...

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