You may not think you have a “writing process”, but you do — everyone does. Get the maximum benefit out of your efforts by incorporating the rituals and routines that result in your most effective writing. For example, if you are more productive in a clean workspace, be sure to dedicate the last 30 minutes of your daily schedule to straightening up. If you work better after you’ve indulged in a good cup of coffee from your favorite mug or in your favorite T-shirt, by all means keep these items handy. Use whatever you can to get yourself into the writing “zone”. To help identify those items, ask yourself:
- What tools do I always need (or think I need) when I’m writing?
- Am I more productive when I indulge in some of my old familiar comforts (e.g., favorite T-shirt, coffee mug or pencils)?
- Have I been more successful when I used a certain routine to start (e.g., directly after a meal, directly after class, directly after my favorite TV show)?
- Where have I done my best and most productive writing? In my office? Bed? At the coffee shop? In the bookstore or library?
- Do I work best with absolute quiet or with noise/white noise in the background?
- Has my best and most productive writing been done in the early morning before everyone gets up, late at night when everyone is asleep, or during the day, when everyone is running around?
- How should I reward myself for accomplishing my goals?
- I know that responding to emails, phone calls, IMs, throughout the day distracts me from writing, so should I read my emails at the beginning of the day or the end of the day? Should avoid the temptation by not logging in until I am ready to deal with it?
- Based on past experience, how large a block of time did I need to write productively?
- When I’m done writing for the day, will it help my next writing session if I write myself a note to remind myself where my thoughts were when I left off? Is there anything else I can do at the end of my writing session to make the next session begin more smoothly?
- Would I feel better about my work – and about doing additional writing – if I had an editor who could “clean up” my initial drafts?
- Do I need an outline, so that I can focus on writing sections instead of the entire document?
- Do I need to see another dissertation on the same topic so that I can see what the end product should look like?
- Do I need to see my advisor’s dissertation to see what his or her expectations are?
- Do I need a theme song to energize my writing process? Maybe Beyonce’s Survivor? 70’s I am woman or I Will Survive?
Remember a good thesis is a done thesis. Similarly, a good dissertation is a done dissertation! What can you do today to move your thesis or dissertation forward?