Archive for January, 2008

If you are still on the fence about re-starting your dissertation, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be hard.  Make it easy.

For the first session in re-starting your dissertation, you just show up.  You don’t have to write.  You don’t have to search for articles or read.  You just show up.  And we all know how important showing up is. 

Decide before sitting down how long this first session will be.  10 minutes?  You decide. 

So this first time in your special place and at the chosen hour, you sit down.  Take a few deep breaths.  Slow everything to a halt.  If you feel anxious, then do some self-calming exercises—talk aloud or tap your pulse point on your wrist or roll your shoulders and your neck. 

This is a good time to reflect or meditate.  Or think of you at your best. 

Again, help yourself to feel at ease.  If you find that you need something at your chosen place for writing to comfort you—a picture, a soft stuffed animal, a pillow—make a mental note to round that up once this first session is over.  For now, tell yourself that you do not have to stay one minute past your scheduled 10 minutes, or whatever amount of time you had decided.

And when the time is up, get up—don’t stay there.

Now pat yourself on the back because you showed up, you sat there, you calmed yourself, you did not check your email, and you did not answer the phone or make calls.

If you messed up and did something other than showing up, then plan for another initiation of your new writing plan.  Plan for another 10-minute session and tell yourself how you will spend your time and what is allowable during that time.

You’re re-wiring your multi-tasking, harried brain.  You are showing up.  You are sitting  in a your chosen place for writing and anticipating doing very soon a great deal on your dissertation.

 One step at a time.

“Little by little, one walks far”  — Peruvian Proverb

Your Dissertation Coach

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There’s still time for a January surge on your dissertation.

In this time of fresh starts, you first need to decide on the where and the when of your dissertation writing.

Where?  Where will you work?  Do you have a place at home where you won’t be interrupted and where you won’t give in to taking naps or pushing furniture around or watching TV?  If not, then you need to get out of the house.  Where will you work? Decide that first.

When?  Will you write first thing in the morning?  Will you get coffee and then write? Don’t give away the time when you are at your best.  Don’t set yourself up for failure by planning on it when you think you might have to take the baby to the doctor or walk the dogs or get caught in traffic and miss the appointed time.

Congratulations!  You have a Where and When.

Re-starting your dissertation writing can be just that easy.

There’s a lot of power in small steps—take a small step and see how it goes.

Your Dissertation Coach

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When you look back on the last week of January 2008, here is what I hope you will say: “That was when I stopped thinking that I should make headway on my dissertation and actually took the steps to do something about it.  Everything turned around for me, starting with that week.”

If you want this to be true for you—and it can be—what will you do to make it happen?

First of all, you need to lower the bar.  Yes, that’s right, step back and take a deep breath. 

This time will be different. 

This time will be a measured, planned, step-by-step approach to re-starting and writing your dissertation.

This time, you’ll make realistic goals and show up to meet those goals.  No hiding out.  No head in the sand.
No more knocking yourself around for what you haven’t done and how much time you’ve wasted.

This new beginning in writing your dissertation will be one you’ll look back on proudly.

Here’s a Smart Tip:  go my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my Smart Tips newsletter. As a special gift for signing up, I have a special gift of first-rate ideas that I’ll send straight-away to you.

All good wishes to you for a fresh beginning this last week of January.

Your Dissertation Coach

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This past week has been a busy one for me, in part because I’ve heard from many of you.

It looks like many dissertation writers have decided that it’s time to bring someone else on board.

And I’m not surprised.

In such a long-term project as writing a dissertation, many writers want
–someone you can tell how you’ve messed up,
–someone with whom you can rehearse where you go next in your writing,
–someone who can help you track the week-by-week progress you’re definitely going to make from now on, and
–someone who will tell you to get in touch with your advisor.

What will make the January surge work for you?

What I’m hearing from person after person is that the #1 reason that they haven’t moved forward is the lack of accountability.

It’s up to you to ask for what you need.

Accountability is available:
–call your advisor,
–buddy up,
–join a writing group,
–or hire a coach.

Give yourself what you need.

Don’t let this last week of January get past you.
I know you can do it!

I’d love to hear where you’re finding accountability.

Let me know if I can help.


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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January is the time for take-charge measures.

Weight loss organizations market heavily in January.  Gyms offer great deals.

E-newsletters multiply, magazines bulge with tips to make this year different, and Oprah offers all of us a way to control our weight.

It makes sense to take advantage of the season, the urge, the energy in the air, in your head, in your body.   Use that challenge to your advantage.

Channel it into your dissertation.

You hear the call to join dissertation groups, to buddy-up, to hire a coach.  If you were ever going to sign up for a dissertation boot camp, now could be the time.

A new dissertation coaching client, who long ago stopped taking graduate classes, but, alas, still pays tuition, has decided that she’s in a no-kidding, no-fooling mode.  She paid her tuition for the current winter term. But that’s the last time.  She has decided that she will defend in April.

Another new dissertation coaching client who for a year had been knocked off her stride by a negative reaction to a proposal has now jumped back into the race.

Use the January fever as a resource.  Make your move now.

If you’re interested in dissertation groups or boot camps, I’d like to hear from you.  What do you need?  What would you do if something were available?

For more support and for tips that you can use, go my website and sign up for my Smart Tips newsletter.

You’re in my thoughts.

Until next time,

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com


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As you write your dissertation, have you wondered how you are going to make it through those times when you feel as if you’ve been punched in the stomach? those low points that come after devastating setbacks?

Do you ever say to yourself, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

Most of us have at one time or another.

When you are knocked off your feet by an unexpectedly critical evaluation of a proposal or a chapter, what do you do?

As I think this morning about what happened in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, I’m struck with how winning for two politicians came on the heels of huge setbacks.

John McCain’s presidential fortunes at one time had been so low that he had been all but written off.

And who gave Hillary Clinton any chance at all of winning in New Hampshire after being beaten so badly in Iowa?

It has to take a deep reservoir of courage and trust– trusting in one’s self even when you feel incredibly wounded–to come back from huge political defeats.

The same can be said for rebounding from a setback in the dissertation process.

Even though you’ve had a severe setback, you still have choices.

And to find the will to make a choice, you go to your own deep pool of resources.

Deciding that you are going to do whatever you can to get back on your feet, making a choice, and taking action can in the long-run give you strength that you would be hard-put to find in any other way.

That new strength becomes part of your inner resources.

It will be there for you to call on when you hit another snag in your life or career or writing.

I’d love to hear what your experiences have been.  How have you dealt with setbacks?

Until next time,


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
ancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Where do you start on your dissertation?  The word review can start you on the following five fast tracks.

Let’s get started:

1.  Learn from your peers who are a bit farther along the road than you are—read and review carefully their dissertations.
 Even if you’ve been writing papers since you were a wee tot, or at least you may feel that way, a dissertation has its own discourse, structure, format.

How have other graduate students written their dissertations on topics similar to yours?  Learn the language by looking at models. Take notes on how other dissertations have been structured, chapter by chapter and section by section. 

2.  Review dissertations suggested by your advisor.
Since your advisor is instrumental in your successfully finishing your dissertation, ask her/him to suggest completed proposals or dissertations that you can read.  Emphasize that you want to see models for form and format.
3.  Review specific dissertations directed by your advisor
Even if your advisor does not mention dissertations he/she has directed, it is de rigueur, absolutely required, that you hunt them down and review them carefully. 

4. Start writing your literature review before you’re ready.
Many advisors suggest that you read widely on your topic, and as you’re reading widely, start writing.  Evaluate each source as you read it for relevance, currency, and the author’s expertise.  If the source measures up to your standards, not only should you make sure you record a complete citation, written in the style required by your discipline, but you also need to write a succinct critical note (quotation/summary) of that source. 

You’ll have a head start on your literature review from your note-taking/writing at this early stage, not just a stack of copied articles or books with yellow underlining throughout.

5.  Review one of the standards in the how-to-write-your-dissertation book genre.  

How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation still gets good marks in this genre, even though it was published in 1981.  Read some book reviews of it and then get your own copy.  This book has put many ABD’s on the fast track.

6.  Bonus source for you to review:  Go to my website (www.nancywhichard.com).  While you’re there, sign up for my Smart Tips for Writers newsletter.  As a special gift, I’ll send you right away—no waiting—5 new success strategies.

Make this a memorable week—Get it off to a great start today!

Until next time,

Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach


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