March is a long month – 4 ½ weeks. And for some people, there’s a week of Spring Vacation thrown in! Whoopy!
What kind of plan for writing do you want for March? Days you are going to work, the amount of time you will work, or how much you will get done?
Instead of focusing primarily on the amount of time you’ll put into writing, focus on what you want to have done by the end of March. What would be great and absolutely astounding and slightly unrealistic to have finished by the end of March? What do you really, really want?
Perhaps a rough draft of the specific chapter you have in front of you? O.k., then say, “By the end of March, I will to have _______ done [fill in the blank with the name of your specific chapter] .” Write that down.
What’s it going to take?
What would it take to get a rough draft finished? What would have to happen?
This is the place to pull up the schedules and strategies that have worked for you over the last few months. Is it setting a time each morning when you start working, no matter what? Is it pulling out the outline? You know you have one. Or is it reading the prospectus and making an outline based on what you promised? Let’s use the best approaches, the ones you know that have worked for you.
Writing equals or exceeds research
When you start to plan your writing schedule, does your mind immediately go to how much reading and research you need to do first?
If you think of all the research you need to do before you’ll be ready to write, give yourself a limited amount of time that you can flip through a couple of books or articles. Make the amount of time less than you think is necessary, such as an hour.
If you give yourself an hour to do a little research, cut that hour in half. Flip through notes or a brief bit of reading for 30 minutes, and then write for 30 minutes. Keep yourself in check by both severely limiting the amount of research or reading you’ll allow yourself to do and requiring that writing always equals or exceeds reading/researching/fact checking.
To face the challenges of March, adopt a more regular sleep pattern
How long has it been since you went to bed at a reasonable time (midnight or even 11 pm)? If you want to get up and use your day, then you have to get to bed at night. Are you one of those people who drink coffee all evening and then wonder why you can’t sleep when you do go to bed? To ease anxiety as well as allow you to sleep at night, slow way down on the black tea or and coffee by late afternoon. This will take some effort, but the results are worth it. To remind yourself that you’re not drinking caffeine at night, put a box of herbal tea out where you can see it.
Get in place your results-first plan for writing and move on it—it’s March!
All good wishes,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com