Posts Tagged ‘dissertation boot camp’

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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January is the time for take-charge measures.

Weight loss organizations market heavily in January.  Gyms offer great deals.

E-newsletters multiply, magazines bulge with tips to make this year different, and Oprah offers all of us a way to control our weight.

It makes sense to take advantage of the season, the urge, the energy in the air, in your head, in your body.   Use that challenge to your advantage.

Channel it into your dissertation.

You hear the call to join dissertation groups, to buddy-up, to hire a coach.  If you were ever going to sign up for a dissertation boot camp, now could be the time.

A new dissertation coaching client, who long ago stopped taking graduate classes, but, alas, still pays tuition, has decided that she’s in a no-kidding, no-fooling mode.  She paid her tuition for the current winter term. But that’s the last time.  She has decided that she will defend in April.

Another new dissertation coaching client who for a year had been knocked off her stride by a negative reaction to a proposal has now jumped back into the race.

Use the January fever as a resource.  Make your move now.

If you’re interested in dissertation groups or boot camps, I’d like to hear from you.  What do you need?  What would you do if something were available?

For more support and for tips that you can use, go my website and sign up for my Smart Tips newsletter.

You’re in my thoughts.

Until next time,

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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