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Archive for the ‘writing habit’ Category

Is a non-negotiable deadline closing in on you?  Has it been set by your university?  Or is a job – perhaps a postdoc– resting on your finishing your dissertation soon?

As you struggle to meet the deadline, it can feel as if you are barreling downhill on an icy, bumpy slope.  And you fear that at any second you could be thrown violently off course.

It’s easy to fall victim to fears of not meeting a deadline and fears of success and the future.  To meet the deadline and finish, you have to be almost counter intuitive.  You have to keep skiing or skating into the jaws of danger, no swerving, no hanging back, no delaying.

The desire, courage, tenacity, mental toughness, and resilience of the athletes of the Winter Olympics are studies in relief of what a writer needs in order to finish a dissertation sooner rather than later.

Even the boldest of Olympians speak of their fears about performing and competing.  From Russia’s skating superstar Evgeni Plushenko to the U.S. Men’s Half-Piper Gold Medal Winner Shaun White, they speak of the need to get into their routines before being sabotaged by their nerves and fears.  

For you to finish your writing in a timely way, rather than fall along the wayside, means that you must move quickly into a writing routine. You also need to have in place a careful, specific timeline and a detailed writing plan that you follow religiously.
 
Evan Lysacek, the winner of the gold for the Men’s Figure Skating, planned each minute of his performance for maximum points. 

Similarly, to finish your dissertation, you must be as strategic, practical, and savvy as Lysacek.  Know the requirements and expectations of those who will review your work.  Factor those requirements and expectations into your goals and timeline.

Your work is every bit as important to you as winning is to an Olympian athlete. Be smart.

Smart Strategies:
1.  Plan a timeline and writing schedule.
2.  Move quickly into a daily writing routine.
3.  Break out the outline and follow it.
4.  Stay in the moment and focus. 
5.  Use your character strengths. Put your desire, courage, tenacity, mental toughness, and resilience into action.

The dissertation is yours to finish– plan, stay in the moment, and practice resilience.

All good wishes,

Nancy

P.S.  My February newsletter is being emailed.  Last Call to sign up—go to www.smarttipsforwriters.com

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com
www.smarttipsforwriters.com

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What do you envision that would help you produce more text and jumpstart your motivation?

What about creating your own writer’s retreat?

Consider how a Boot Camp for Writers would get you back on track with your dissertation or your book or article and give a huge boost to your productivity.

If you have been a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Boot Camp is one of the services I offer writers who want to push aside distractions and excuses and write. 

It came about from my seeing the cottages that many published writers had built for themselves just for the purpose of writing. I also dreamed of going to one of the writer’s retreats I often heard and read about. 

To help me make headway on major writing projects, I fashioned my own kind of writer’s retreat, and it worked for me. How about you?  Do you want to create your own writer’s retreat and form a daily writing habit? 
 
If you want to make progress on your book, article, or dissertation, Boot Camp very likely may be what you’ve been looking for.
 
Boot Camp typically runs for two weeks. I help with the planning and daily accountability.  At the end of the two-week Boot Camp, we usually continue the coaching so that you maintain the writing habit that Boot Camp gives you and to help you continue to be the productive writer that you want to be.
 
A recent client had this to say about Boot Camp:

I was really paralyzed with my dissertation, and to be frank, did not expect that anything would change. I just wanted to know myself that I had tried everything I could think of to get going again.

I was ecstatic when I started writing again just in the first few days of boot camp. I gradually became more confident when at the end of each day I had more material added to the chapter.
 

Interested?  I’d love to hear from  you.

All good wishes,

Nancy

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

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Another convert to “Write First Thing”–hurray! 

One of my coaching clients said that he tried the method of getting up half an hour earlier than usual and working first-thing on some dissertation free-writing.  He said it worked great for him.  He got a lot of work done, not in those half-hours per se, but in the afternoons. 

He focuses on his dissertation before the day gets a good start, and then occasionally during the day at his office, he finds himself thinking about where his free-writing had taken him

Since he has had his dissertation on his mind off and on all day, he finds when he returns home later in the day that he has a ready starting point for his writing.

Interestingly, he actually thinks he’s more focused when he has just a half hour of free-writing each morning and then a couple of hours later in the day than when he has a whole day that he can give to his dissertation.

Sometimes less is more.

All good wishes,

Nancy

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

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In order to accomplish the large amount of writing required for a dissertation in any sort of sane way, you need a schedule. 

A dissertation coaching client who has been juggling job/moving/dissertation has been struggling to find a time to write, a time that she’ll stick to.
 
She told me this week that she decided to read past issues of the ABDSurvivalGuide e-newsletter for suggestions, and what she came away with was “Write First Thing.”
 
Of course, she knew that I’d click my heels at the sound of that idea.  And indeed I did.  My client said that by going that route, she won’t feel that each evening she must rush out of the office at the first opportunity, dash home, and hurry through dinner in order to get in some writing. 

Should she be too exhausted to write after dinner, she won’t feel that she has failed. She’ll be able to point to the good hour of work she put in first thing that morning.
 
While “Write First Thing” is eminently reasonable and sane, your schedule must be one that works for you, allowing you to move forward on your diss, as well as providing time for all of the others things your busy life requires you to do.  And once it’s in place, you need to stick to it.
 
Dr. Tracy Steen, the brilliant and prolific writer/editor of the ABDSurvivalGuide, says that she definitely stuck to a writing schedule when she was in grad school.

I know many people who resist making a schedule, and daily they avoid writing.  What a lot of unnecessary suffering.
 
If you have no particular plan, why not get on board with a morning routine?  Make a schedule that has you getting up 30 minutes or an hour earlier than usual so that you Write First Thing?  Try it for at least a week and see if you write more that week than you have written for quite a while.

All good wishes,

Nancy

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

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For sundry reasons, several dissertation coaching clients are now looking around and saying, “What happened to the last three months of my life, how can September be nearly over, and what do I do now?”

Bemoaning the lack of progress you’ve made on your dissertation doesn’t help.  Starting again is the key.  And not just starting, but forming a daily writing habit.  

If you’ve been reading my blog on most any given day, you know that I advocate forming a daily writing habit as the best way to produce text and to finish your dissertation.

 Practicing that habit is critical. 

Just as musicians have to practice in order to play well, writers have to practice their writing habit in order to produce a finished document.

I came across The Practice Notebook, a blog designed to help professional musicians and music students alike to develop good practice habits. And even better, it’s to help musicians “make the most of limited practice time, by making your practice as efficient as possible.” 

The tips are all good.  With apologies and thanks to the practice notebook blogger, I have rewritten three tips particularly applicable to dissertation writers who are restarting their dissertations after time off.

The initial goal in restarting your writing is to wake up your brain, tame your space, and tame yourself.

 1.  When you make your plan to restart, go light on those first few writing sessions.  Short is good when you’re just re-starting.  If you can last through 15 minutes the first day, you’re on your way. 

 2. If you are a bit out of practice with your dissertation writing and can’t detect any signals between your brain and fingers, do some warm ups.  Start by making a list. Do some free writing.  Write a haiku.   

 3.  When you’re restarting your dissertation writing with the intention of getting your dissertation writing habit up and running, it’s o.k. to write in your monkey jammies.  What?  You don’t have monkey jammies? O.k., then, how about writing in your knit sleep pants?  They’re good, too. Make yourself comfortable and reward yourself for showing up.

 Go gently, but firmly and keep coming back.

 Dissertation coaching can help you restart your dissertation, too.

 All good wishes,

Nancy

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

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