Sometimes when writing a dissertation, we get tired, exhausted and depressed we forget the reason we came to graduate school in the first place. You did not go to graduate school to find a job as a teaching assistant, research assistant or even graduate assistant. Some of us might have left jobs that were less than challenging to our intellect and we wanted to pursue a PhD to gain more independence and flexibility. Do you remember why you came to graduate school, why did you select that particular topic for your dissertation. Does it really matter? Sure it does but if you are currently writing your dissertation this is not the time to ponder these questions.
If you are writing your dissertation and struggling with these answers it’s important to remember that “a good dissertation is a Done dissertation.” Quite frankly, the answers to these questions don’t need to be answered before you finish writing your dissertation. The truth of the matter is if you are stalling to answer these questions, it means that your writing schedule is not specific enough. You have too much time on your hands. You can schedule time to ponder but you cannot allow yourself to be distracted from writing. You can use a number of tactics to move the writing process along in a forward direction.
If you are writing your dissertation and you want to finish you must work on it everyday. Just 12-15 minutes will move you forward every day. Set the timer on your watch, phone, or microwave and write for 15 minutes straight without editing. So what if it is not perfect let’s pretend that you are going to throw that draft away anyway. I have some of the brightest graduate students who struggle with writing because they are a perfectionists and a very critical of their own work. Good writing takes practice; the more you write the better you get at it. Don’t worry about anyone else reading it; just because you wrote it doesn’t mean you have to share it with anyone. Hire an editor if you are really really worried about what your advisor or other committee members might think. It’s not cheating to hire an editor. All academic journals employ editors before to edit contributors’ work before it ever gets published.
To all of you working on your dissertation this holiday season, Happy Holidays. Let’s make our New Year’s Resolution to complete the PhD, complete our proposal, complete our comprehensive exams. Finish what you start and get what you came for.
I wish you all the best in the coming year. We will be moving over to a new blog page in January with the start of the Winter Dissertation House for UMBC students. Join me on line Tues, Jan 17th, 2012.