Are you trying to write everyday? Is the thought of writing your proposal stressing you out? Have you tried all of the writing strategies others have suggested and still nothing happens? Are you a perfectionist?
First and foremost it’s important to remember” It doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to be Done“. Keep in mind that not everyone in the world will read your proposal or dissertation. If you check to see how many people have checked dissertations out of the library or have read a dissertation cover to cover the numbers are quite small. A mere handful of people will read your entire proposal or dissertation. The formal language of a dissertation does not piques the general public’s interest.
Most writing experts address perfectionism or writing anxiety by offering a range of suggestions that include :
- Seeking professional therapy
- Writing in your own voice
- Turning off the internet distractions
- Practice and persistence
- Writing in a journal
Rarely do they offer hiring a dissertation coach. I act as the dissertation coach at my respective university and I also know of some dissertation coaches outside the university setting. I find hiring a dissertation coach is not a bad idea if you need some direction and some accountability. Nonetheless, if your are a perfectionist or have perfectionist tendencies, you should try all of the above suggestions offered and then try a coach if none of these suggestions work.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign that you have done all that you can and now you have made another decision to move you forward. A coach might suggest trying all of these suggestions. The real question is which one will you try?
When I was struggling to write my proposal, here is one thing that worked for me and what I recommend to my students. I borrowed “The Proposal Cookbook” from the library. Even though it is out of print, you can still get it from the publisher. The information for The Proposal Cookbook is as follows: MicroFutures, Inc. 671 21st St. NW,Naples, Fl 34120. Email – firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone – 239-455-7508. The cost is minimal.
The Proposal Cookbook was the best source I found to write a first draft of the entire proposal. At the end of each section it has 3 questions. By answering the 3 questions at the end of each section I was able to get a full rough draft completed. With a full draft completed, I knew where the holes were in my thinking; I knew what I had to look up and what still needed to be addressed.
I sat at my computer and answered the questions blindly without referring to books, journal articles, etc. In other words, I answered the questions without looking anything up, and just in one sitting. I suspect the fear and anxiety is probably present because many students probably have too much information in their heads. If this is you, you need to get that information out of your head and down on paper. You can always go back and edit, add citations, and other information later. When you don’t know something don’t panic you can write [insert reference or look up later]. This technique helps you to keep going without leaving your seat.
Below are some techniques to help you write a draft of your dissertation proposal or chapter:
- To take the pressure off you can say to yourself that the first draft is just for your eyes only; you don’t have to show it to anyone else. You can toss it in the recycle bin if you don’t like the first version.
- You can say to yourself that I can write a crappy version first just to get the nonsense out of my head.
- You can write your proposal as a letter to friend or a grandmother i.e. for someone who is not an expert in your field
- You can write your proposal in bullet form first and go back and write it in paragraphs later
- You can leave the introduction until the end
- You can write the transitions after the document is done
- Get out a pen and paper and write your proposal long hand
- Turn the spell checker off
- Write as if no one else will see it; meaning write it the way you want to…who cares if it is “right’ . It’s OK to be wrong that’s what learning is about.
- Focus on 1 section/ingredient at a time.
If all else fails you can hire a dissertation coach at wwww.phdcompletion.com. I believe that a GOOD DISSERTATION IS A DONE DISSERTATION.