Posts Tagged ‘coaching’

If your goal is to work on your dissertation or your article, what gets in your way and eats up your time and energy?

Every writer can find a million more important things to do, such as watching all the episodes of the first season of Downton Abbey in one day. 

But what else derails your writing plans?

Kids?  Family?  A job?  Check, check, check.

If the derailers were just kids-family-job, you could still most likely find a bit time to write.  But there’s something else that is a wretched waste of time and energy, and it’s a frequent, even daily occurrence over which you have little control  . . . your commute!

If you have a bad commute, you have my sympathies. 

A bad commute has an intensely harmful influence on your quality of life and also on your making headway in your writing. Not only does a bad commute increase your anxiety, but it can turn you into someone you’d rather not know.  I bet you’ve seen that side of yourself when you’re stuck in traffic. 

It affects your mood and even your cognitive performance.  And those negative effects are long-lasting, affecting your ability to follow through on plans to write and your ability to focus.

Please take a minute and let me know if your commute is an issue for you, and how it affects your writing. How do you work around the stress of a bad commute and make headway on your writing?    

Hoping you’re sprinting past the barriers and writing,


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



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Whether living hundreds of miles from campus or sitting at a table in the university library, many ABD’s feel isolated from their schools. They voice concerns that their schools rarely reach out to them, other than when tuition is due. 

The feeling that universities give little or no help to doctoral students during the dissertation process seems widespread.

If you are one of the ABD’s who feel isolated, here are some sources of support:
• Boot Camp
• Writing Buddy 
• Dissertation Coach
• All of the above

In an attempt to respond to some of the needs of ABD’s, a few universities have started dissertation boot camps.

This is a fairly recent development, and the University of Kentucky may have been the latest to enter this field.  Kentucky ran a two-week Dissertation Boot Camp this past summer, June 4-15, 2007. 

It consisted of
• A mandatory 3-hour writing session each morning, with an optional 3-hour writing session each afternoon
• During the two weeks, 3 talks/presentations on subjects of common interest (procrastination, perfectionism, choosing manageable tasks)
• An optional support group available to all students
• Occasional follow up with the students after the boot camp ended

The cost was very reasonable– participants paid $25 for the two week session.  A big bonus was that students who were off-campus could stay overnight for only $20 per night. 

The University of Pennsylvania was the model for the UK Boot Camp.  Penn offered its 2-week boot camp 3 times during 2005/2006, the first year for the Penn camp.  Eighty students participated in those 3 camps the first year.

In 2007, Yale University offered 3 sections of its boot camp to 20 students per session.  Though modeled on programs at other schools, Yale’s camp was more of a “retreat,” that is, a program of only 2 days, 8 hours each day, with drinks, snacks, lunch, and dinner delivered to the students as they wrote.

In August 2007, UCLA held what appeared to be a narrowly focused boot camp for students needing to write a prospectus or a proposal.

The University of New Mexico has held a boot camp for a limited number of students, but additional details were unavailable.

It was several years ago when  I first heard of dissertation boot camps— the first one was privately run by Sonja Foss in Colorado.  And she continues to offer a boot camp:
• Each session is limited to 8 students at a time
• The cost is in the neighborhood of $1600 for each session
• Foss provides personal attention
• Students write from 8 am to 9 pm each day with breaks for meals

Dissertation boot camps can give students a good start.

While book camps are not available to most students, resourceful, determined writers can find support.  My clients gain support from friends, clients, and a dissertation coach:
• One of my dissertation coaching clients, who has a fulltime job as well as children and a husband, meets an acquaintance each Tuesday night at a coffee shop, where they write for 1 ½ hrs.
• Another client meets a college friend, who happens to live in her area, for Saturday afternoon writing sessions at a local library.
• My clients have also chosen to hire a dissertation coach—me! 
      1. My clients and I  talk weekly
      2. Clients email me with updates between calls

Many ABD’s say that they think their universities could do more to reach out to them during the dissertation process.  In the meantime, do what you can.  Working with someone can make all the difference.  Pair up!

Remember, you do have some choices:
• Boot Camp
• Writing Buddy 
• Dissertation Coach
• All of the above

The more support the better!

I’d love to hear about the support that you have put in place.  Have you had any experience with boot camps?

Also, please stop by my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my free electronic newsletter– I’m giving a bonus for signing up.

Until next time,


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