If you’ve been teaching this past year, isn’t it a joy not to have to work on lectures or grading? Maybe you have the house/apartment/office to yourself.
So–how are you doing on your summer writing?
If you are almost ready to get started, but not quite there yet, perhaps you had a project dumped on you as did one of my dissertation clients.
She was co-authoring a paper for a presentation and realized that as the deadline approached, she was, as she described it, “flying solo.” So she spent a good part of a week working on the paper and in the end produced something she was proud of. Plus, she was proud of the process she put in place to get it done. She got up each day much earlier than she ordinarily did and stuck with it, hammering it out.
She had to assume responsibility and look at the work as her project alone. There could be no slacking off in hopes that the other person would clean up after her and catch any problem she had left dangling.
She congratulated herself on a job well done, but the problem came about when she needed to refocus on her dissertation. Her adrenalin had been surging while she was hammering out the paper she was supposedly co-authoring. When it was out the door, she had a bit of a bottoming out. She had to work on getting re-started on her diss.
If you’ve become similarly stalled or have fallen off track as you approach your diss, it may help to remind yourself that you are the project manager of producing a chapter or a draft or whatever your summer goal is. And, no matter what, you are going to deliver it on time.
While you don’t want to add undue anxiety to your work, you do have to add some urgency. If we think we have all the time in the world to do something, then it will take all the time available and then some.
1. Writing space.
To get back on track, set up your writing space. Rent a space somewhere if you can possibly do so, or go to the library every morning.
2. No excuses.
Each evening get everything you need ready for the next day. Be very clear what it is you need to have ready in order for you to walk out the door each morning.
3. Add a structure.
Add another element in your morning if you need to have some sense of necessity at getting out the door on time. Remind yourself that your favorite table in the library will be taken unless you get there early. Promise to call someone on your cell phone at a definite time as you walk into the door of the library.
4. Sit down and wait.
When you get to your writing space, sit still and breathe for a moment. Don’t grab a newspaper or magazine. Just sit there and collect yourself.
5. Remind yourself of today’s goal.
Do you know what your goal is for this writing session that stretches ahead? If not, decide what is at the top of your mental list. What do you want to do first? Make a decision—remember that you’re taking control of this project.
6. Don’t over-promise.
Decide how long you will stay at your table and work. Don’t over-promise. It’s better to under-promise. Be steady and deliver a good day’s work, no matter what amount of time you have given.
7. Make it easy to start again.
Before you shut down your work for the day, set specific goals and make a plan for tomorrow’s writing session.
This is a summer for substance, a summer when you will deliver your project on time.
So what if you meant to start writing last week? Start now! Get on with it.
And give yourself a little smile.
Your Dissertation Coach