Get up early, no matter how much you think you think you need sleep, and write.
Writing a dissertation takes single-mindedness. It takes mental focus. It works best when you feel calm, when anxiety is low, stress is low, and you feel little or no ambivalence.
And how often do you feel this way?
Do you waste time feeling how unfair it is that you have to work so hard just to find a quiet moment when you won’t be disturbed? That you have to lose sleep just to write? Do you feel that others have it better and easier than you do?
Most of us have lives that seem to be careening along, as wild as a California fire or a Virginia summer storm.
Just when we think we see a week-end approaching when at last time will be ours, the time slips away.
The space where we thought we would write completely disappears, as if swept away by a summer downpour.
And at the end of that day when time once again eluded us, this is what I know. When once again we have not met our goal and when once again we feel beaten down and knocked about, we certainly do not feel that we’re participating in a metaphor. We are not part of a fast-moving stream. We are slouching in a chair and self-medicating by eating, drinking, or watching TV.
We know we should go on to bed, but there we are– wondering where the time went.
Go to bed! The only way to get writing done is to get ahead of the storm. Get to bed and then get up early, no matter how much you think you think you need sleep. Write. Write early in the morning.
Write before you hear other people in your building starting to rise. Write before your own kids are awake. Write before you hear car doors slamming or cars moving. Write before your mind starts to feel befuddled by the demands of whatever else is in your life.
Write when you are calm and when it is quiet.
And then hum to yourself this lovely old hymn that Cat Stevens made popular: