Archive for December, 2008

What do you want more of in 2009?  Greater productivity in your writing?  Much more motivation to help you start writing your dissertation? How about Perseverance?  Or physical endurance?

Are you ready to launch your 2009 Self-Improvement Package?  How about joining a Dissertation Boot Camp?

From Oprah to gyms to decluttering gurus, we’re being given great opportunities that will help us make significant changes in the coming year.

If truth be told (and I try to tell the truth to others, if not always to myself), I think I’m going to need Oprah’s guidance for a few months in 2009.  Although I exercise, I am too fond of the comfort of food.  Whenever I hit a wall in my writing, my first thought is what could I eat? I’m definitely making some changes in 2009.

I need habits that are working for me.

The beginning of a new year is an opportune time to assess our habits and consider how they are working for or against us.

As writers, most of us have habits that fall into both categories, such as writing every day (works for us) and procrastination (works against us).

Although it may seem that we should simply cease and desist from those “bad” habits that work against us, as most of us know all too well from experience, that rarely provides a lasting solution.

Fortunately, there are positive strategies that can achieve lasting results. Most of these involve capitalizing on the power of habit.

Are you interested in using the power of habit to your advantage in the coming year?

A Dissertation Boot Camp helps you establish a robust daily writing habit.  With each day, the writing habit becomes stronger.  Would you be interested in that? If you’re interested in how a boot camp might be part of your 2009 plan, check out my website:  www.nancywhichard.com.

I’d love to hear from you.  What strategy would give you lasting results in establishing an industrial-strength daily writing habit?

Hope and cheer to you for new and better habits in 2009,


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach



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What if writing each day on your dissertation was a habit?  What would you gain from that?

Do you know the power of habit?

Here are the top 5 reasons for developing a solid, robust, no-kidding daily writing habit:

1.  You would not lose time and energy fighting the internal battles of whether you would write today.

2.  Your writing would come easily to mind at random moments during the day, giving you the opportunity to have new ideas and to make new connections.

3.  You wouldn’t have to find time to write—the time would be there, available, ready-made, dedicated to your work.

4.  You would replace distraction and self-deception with a solid, reliable writing habit.

5.  You would be writing on your dissertation every day.

Too often when ABD’s are isolated, working alone and with little accountability to anyone, a daily writing habit is far from reality.

Just as often, newly minted PhD’s working in their first appointment have lost the writing momentum they once had and are now procrastinating on their own writing.  They think they have no time for their research projects, or they’re making up excuses not to write.  They may distract and even deceive themselves to keep from writing.

I’m putting together some strategies that should put a habit in place that will give you the muscle you need to push distractions and self-deceptions aside and start a new day in your writing life.

Many writers who have been part of dissertation boot camps have high praise for the results and give their experience rave reviews.

If you’re interested in a virtual boot camp, you might want to check out my website at www.nancywhichard.com or sign up for my free e-newsletter.  I have an article on boot camps in the next issue that will go out right away.  Sign up at www.nancywhichard.com.

I’d love to hear from you if you have some ideas or strategies that can help make writing each day a habit or if you’re interested in gaining an intense, daily writing habit.

Best wishes,

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach



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Geoff Colvin, senior editor at large of Fortune, says that talent is overrated, and from the attention his ideas are receiving, it appears that his writing is convincing a wide audience. He first wrote on the topic in a Fortune cover story and has since published a book.

He argues that to become accomplished, one must set specific daily goals and then pursue the work at some intensity. Mediocre performers, he says, have general goals, centered on finishing a project, but the “best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome.”

You don’t have to be the most talented or the most brilliant person in your class.  Daily writing or, as Colvin would say, deliberate practice pursued at some intensity makes all the difference.

That says to me that one-step-at-a-time, daily writing works wonders toward your finishing your dissertation.

How are you doing with your dissertation writing?  Are you setting specific, daily goals and working with some intensity?  Hurray for you!  Keep going!

If you’re interested in learning more about how a dissertation boot camp could help you with daily, intense writing, check out my website at www.nancywhichard.com.

Best wishes,

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach



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I hear many people say that they can’t write their dissertation.
Is that you?  Has it been too long since you have written anything?  Or too long since you contacted your advisor?

How about shaking things up a bit?  Where can you make a small change or even take a bold step?

Many of my clients have taken incredibly brave and bold actions to help them re-start on their dissertations.  Changing their physical space was a great motivator.

In the past, I have had clients check into a hotel for a week-end to get away from home and hearth or whatever is stopping her or him from writing.  And that works.  Changing the scenery and physically removing yourself from the everyday distractions almost always helps you move forward on your dissertation.

However, what one of my clients has planned to do is even bolder.

She is leaving behind her day-to-day life and moving across country to the city where her advisor now teaches.   She’ll sublet an apartment and go to the library every day.  Her advisor has agreed to be available to her.

And she has a plan:  she has a specific time line for what she plans to do.

She is leaving behind her other responsibilities—she won’t tele-commute for her employer, she won’t worry about the bills for now.

What about you?  Where can you shake things up and take a
bold step?  What would be a step out of the ordinary for you? Even small changes can motivate you into action on your dissertation.

Please write and tell me what you are planning to do.  I’d love to hear from you.

I have a suggestion for a bold step.  How about a virtual dissertation boot camp?  If a virtual boot camp sounds interesting, check out my website:  www.nancywhichard.com.

And do sign up for my newsletter while you’re at my website. There are always some handy tips in Smart Tips for Writers.

Happy Holidays!

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach



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What is successful writing?  And how can motivation play a part in your achieving successful writing?

You, along with many people, may be celebrating holidays this week.  It’s probably been next to impossible for you to do the writing that you had promised yourself you would do.  It may also have been quite some time since you produced any text at all.

Getting started after being away from your writing for a while may be a challenge.

To me, whatever writing you can do will be successful writing.  The most successful writing is that first writing that you get on the screen or on the page after there’s been a slowdown or a complete stoppage. To start, regardless of how much conflict you feel, and to write through whatever anxiety you’re feeling are causes for celebration.

During this holiday season, you have some time where you can slow down a bit.  You can forgive yourself for all the times you didn’t write.  Let go of that regret.  Let’s think about a different way to approach your writing.

What would it be like for you to stay in a calm, trusting mood for a couple of days?  Trust that you can feel some anxiety, but write anyway. Trust that you will find your way through the work when you return to it.  Plan the time when you will return to your work and envision yourself doing the work.

This is the time to refill the well and to nurture yourself. Stay in a calm and trusting mode, knowing that you will move into the plan at the appropriate time.

If you’re interested in how a boot camp might be part of the plan, check out my website:  www.nancywhichard.com.  And sign up for my free e-newsletter, too.  The issue that’s going out very soon will also have an article on boot camps.

All good wishes for a Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday,

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach


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Christmas with the intensity of family, gifts, and travel can blot out everything else.  Just Sending Cards can balloon into a fast-paced skit that ends with husband driving wife to the Post Office while wife continues to stamp, apply return label, and seal the final 15 cards that could possibly arrive before Christmas.

Christmas is like the hard deadline, familiar to all writers.  You know that  you’re through getting ready for Christmas when it is Christmas.

When it’s time for people to open their presents or when the kids are coming downstairs or when everyone is seated at Christmas dinner, you’ll know you’re done.

There’s something reassuring, if harrowing, about a hard deadline.  It’s often not of your own making, but the definitive, clear nature of the hard deadline removes from you some responsibility and even commitment.  You didn’t set the deadline—it’s outside yourself—and you just keep working until you’re gathered with others around the tree.  Then you know you’re ready for Christmas. You made it once again.

In writing a dissertation, you won’t encounter too many hard deadlines, sorry to say, but imagine how a Dissertation Boot Camp might somehow capture the elements of getting ready for Christmas or of having a hard deadline.

A Boot Camp can help you by giving you the daily structure of when to write and when to stop writing.  A Boot Camp can offer you a great number of benefits.

If you’ve participated in a Boot Camp, I’d love to hear from you.  Please share your experiences.

Check out my website for a suggestion about a Boot Camp—that’s at www.nancywhichard.com.  While you’re at my website, sign up for my free e-newsletter—Smart Tips for Writers.  My newsletter will be going out within the next couple of days.  You’ll see a piece on boot camps there, too.

With wishes for a happy holiday,


Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach


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Have you made up or latched onto a belief in order to justify procrastinating on your dissertation?

Many ABD’s tell me that they are struggling in their attempt to make headway in their dissertation.

In my email and in the conversations I have with people who are writing their dissertations, one word keeps coming up again and again:  procrastinating.

The most active posts on this blog are those dealing with procrastination and also with getting started with writing or re-starting writing.

If you know you need to make a change but you haven’t been able to get started or re-started on your writing, it’s possible that you’ve latched onto a belief that’s causing you some big problems.

What beliefs are helping you to procrastinate?

Do any of these sound familiar?

1. “I don’t know enough—I have to keep reading and researching.”

2. “I can’t move forward in the writing until I feel confident about the introduction.”

3. “I need a big chunk of time in order to get into the work.”

4. “Working at the last-minute before I have a deadline is the way I work best and may be the only way I can work.”

5. “My life is so full that I just can’t get to some things until the last minute.”

6. “I am really trying to clear the decks so that I can get into this project.”

And my favorite:

7.  “I’m at my most creative when I’m working at the last minute.”

Which belief do you own up to?  Even if you know it’s just an excuse, do you still use it to help you avoid writing?

To kick this bad habit of procrastinating:

1.  Ask yourself where will you will be in one month if you continue to do what you’re doing now.

2.  Take an honest appraisal of what beliefs you’re putting in your way.  Start with my checklist of excuses above and add your excuses or roadblocks.

3.  Consider how often you allow fears of inadequacy or  the belief that you are an imposter bring your work to a halt. If you allow the imposter syndrome to plant itself in your vision, you are irrationally blinding yourself to all that you have done to get yourself to this point.

Being honest with yourself is a first step toward getting your writing started.

What other beliefs and excuses come to your mind?  Please share!

And remember to sign up for my Smart Tips for Writers e-newsletter at my website:  www.nancywhichard.com.



P.S.  Remember—you don’t have to do everything at once.

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach



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