Archive for February, 2009

How often have you been in the midst of a conversation with a close relative or friend and suddenly you’re asked, “When do you think you’ll finish your dissertation?”

Or you might get this zinger: “Do you know of anyone in your field who has actually landed a job?”

When you are minutes away from a writing session, ready to produce text, you don’t want put your work in jeopardy.

Instead of taking the chance on a bad phone call, take responsibility for your own mood:

1.  Put off returning or making phone calls during the lead-in time to your writing sessions for your dissertation. Do all that you can to protect yourself from negative emotions that you would be hard put to shake.  Your mood and your time are too valuable to risk them on a conversation that could be put off until later.

2.  In addition, put off anything prior to your writing session that could distract you, including reading email and newspaper headlines and watching TV morning shows.

3.  Also, put off other work that can be done later, such as straightening up the kitchen and bath, sorting socks, and making grocery lists.

Try this:

1.  As you move into your morning writing session, slow down– don’t rush into writing as if you are running to catch the subway.

2.  Put yourself into a good mood—listen to a bit of music, slowly lift a couple of weights, stretch, look out the window at a tree, look at a favorite picture on your wall.  Writing is indeed easier when you are in a good mood.

3.  Breathe deeply and relax your shoulders and neck.

4.  Calmly open your document and remind yourself of your goals for the day.

As you plan your writing sessions, think about how you can create emotional well-being and eliminate or at least reduce the drama.

I’d love to hear what protective boundaries you have drawn for yourself.

Happy writing!


P.S.  Put off anything that would derail you, but don’t put off writing.  If you need help with putting a writing habit in place, let me know.  I’d like to help.  For example, consider dissertation boot camp – it can make a surprising difference.

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



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Is writing your dissertation a top priority for you?  You may think that you are putting your writing project or dissertation first.  At least you think about it or worry about it more time than you’d like.

But what are you doing during your prime time, when you’re at your best?

If there’s a deadline looming, you put your dissertation first, push aside other tasks, clean off your desk, and settle in to grind that paper out.

Instead of waiting for a deadline to call you to action, what could you put in place now  that would let you write straightaway, no dillydallying?

Here’s a thought—why not put off the less critical things?
That would allow you to put your writing first and to put your best self into your writing.

To put your writing first, what else can be put off?

1.  Reading the newspaper.
Reading the newspaper can take a lot of time.  It’s even more dangerous to read a paper online.  Not only will you read the main articles, but you’ll also be pulled to read the articles that are most frequently emailed.  And the opinions and then the YouTube interview attached to the article.

2. Reading even one email.
If you made the mistake of reading online headlines from your favorite newspaper, then you’re already too close for comfort to your email.  But it’s not too late to turn and run.
Put off all email until your writing session is over.

3. Straightening up the kitchen.
Who would think that cleaning up the kitchen in the morning would hold you in its clutches?  Most writers would, that’s who. To put off writing, we can clean the counter and sink as if the mother-in-law were arriving within the hour.  My advice– delegate kitchen duties.  If you can’t delegate, then put off kitchen clean-up until you’re cooking dinner.

4. Staying on campus unnecessarily or doing admin duties during your prime time, if you are teaching.
Put off anything you can if you’re teaching that will keep you from writing.

a. If you write at home, leave campus right away after class.  Don’t go back to  your office or you’ll undoubtedly be waylaid by a chatty colleague.

b. If you take attendance in your classes by collecting question-of-the-day  responses, put off reading them and recording attendance until late in the evening  when you’re tired.

What have you been putting off?  If it’s your writing, then it’s time that you give more than give lip-service to your dissertation.  Put something else off for the sake of your writing.

All good wishes,


P.S.  If you’ve made a habit of putting off writing your dissertation, it’s time to change that habit.   Dissertation boot camp can help you put make a habit of writing your dissertation during your best time.
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach



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