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When you’re writing a dissertation, it’s likely that you’ll feel isolated.  Many dissertators say how much they long to be back at the university where they could talk with their peers about their ideas and their writing.

Too often the isolated dissertation writer feels less than excited about the writing.  And productivity suffers.

Talking with others helps you to bounce back when you’re feeling down.  But sometimes you think that only others who are in the same situation can empathize with you.

You may avoid the people with whom you could have contact because you think they wouldn’t want to talk about your writing.  You may be right.  But you may have other things in common.

  • Someone with whom you enjoy sharing lunch or talking to about the kids or the football game or the  3K race coming up Sunday
  •  Someone with whom you can compare prices and benefits of one gym over another
  •  Someone to whom you can reveal your less-than-complete knowledge or understanding of a product or the way your car works

Positive Psychology researchers contend that one of the most important ways to improve one’s job satisfaction is by having a friend at work.  Similarly, when you’re struggling with a dissertation, having a friend to chat with can give you a boost and improve the way you look at your job as a writer.

Having a friend helps to bring out the best in you. If you feel that someone recognizes your worth as a person and also shares some of your values, you will probably feel more confident in exercising your strengths and talents.

The more you can use your strengths, the more likely it is that you will feel more resilient about your writing.  And resilience brings greater productivity.

When you’re feeling alone or perhaps that the world is against you, look around for a friend.  Aristotle said, “The antidote for 50 enemies is one friend.”

I’m curious whether you think it would be worth your time to cultivate a friend.  I’d love to hear what you think.
Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach

www.smarttipsforwriters.com

http://www.dissertationbootcamp.net

http://www.nancywhichard.com

nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Have you turned up the heat on your dissertation now that summer is here?  Is your summer writing starting to take off yet? What are you using as an incentive?

One of my clients has a new powerful incentive—one that she says has given her a sense of purpose about finishing her dissertation.

Let me tell you her story of how she found this incentive.  There are three parts to her story.

1. First of all, she admits that she has had fear and uncertainty around what finishing her dissertation might mean for her.  And that fear has at times held her back.

She has resisted seeing herself as an expert or emerging expert. She has also resisted the idea that she is carving out a niche for herself in the academic world as she writes her diss.

Because she has questioned her own knowledge and the quality of her research, she has at times avoided people and avoided situations where her self-described inadequacies might show her to be the fraud she feared she was. 

2. The second part of this story has to do with a shot in the arm that my client received by going to a conference.

As a graduate student, she has been to many conferences, presenting and discussing, but even so, in many ways, she has held back and hid out. She said that the most recent conference got off to the usual slow start that she’s experienced at many conferences.  As she usually did, she spent the first night in her room, resting, and missed an initial gathering.

The second day of the conference was the beginning of her transformation.

Her advisor said that at the gathering which my client missed, that he had talked to several people about her work.  In addition, some of the other graduate students and professors attending the gathering were interested in talking with her and hearing more. 

This was the push she needed.  She began to drop her fear of being revealed as an imposter and gradually became more at ease talking about her work. 

She dared to think more boldly about her diss and tried out some of her ideas by asking questions in the sessions she attended.  She sought people out and for the first time enjoyed networking.  This was all new for her and took courage, but she was acting on the sense that had come from the revising and honing of her ideas as she had worked on her diss over the last many months and years–that she did indeed know a great deal about her topic.  Furthermore, during the conference, she almost allowed herself to feel like an expert.

3. The third part of this story is that she came home with a new realization of why she is writing a dissertation—she wants to share her ideas and thoughts.  Sharing her ideas and testing her ideas at this conference were such powerful experiences that she no longer sees research as a way to stay insulated or in her bubble.  She is starting to see the excitement that can be hers, and she wants to burst out of her self-imposed academic bubble. Getting her dissertation out the door is the next step, but she no longer feels that the diss has to be perfect before she lets go of it.  Now she says that she needs to get her ideas out in the market place, and she has hopes that finishing her diss can be the start of much more work on her ideas.

With this wind at her back she says that she needs to do a last, strong push toward the finish line, rather than hovering around the last mile or two.  This confidence in her future is just what she needed.

And that’s as far as the story goes today about my client and the boost she got from
(1) getting out of her own way,
(2) enjoying the thrill of sharing her ideas with others
at the conference, and by
(3) acting on her excitement from the conference to fuel her rapid movement toward the dissertation finish line.

How about you?  How can you motivate yourself?  What if you acknowledged your expertise and started to act as if you, too, have ideas and writing that you want to get out there into the world?  It could be a brand new day!

Have a brilliant writing session today.

Nancy
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com

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Most of us in the U.S. turned back our clocks this morning, giving us one extra hour.

Now you may think I’ll say that everyone writing a dissertation had one extra hour today to write.  Not me.  Not this time.

As I read the Washington Post this morning, a little earlier than I usually do on Sunday mornings, I was struck by the gift of an hour and what was available to me—I read the Post’s “Picks” and “Can’t Miss.”   But when I was writing my dissertation, if I had received the gift of an extra hour, I doubt that I would have spent it doing what I really wanted to do.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have.

Writing a dissertation can move us into survival mode.  We may stockpile every minute, push ourselves beyond what’s reasonable, prop ourselves up with caffeine and sugar, and push away others, compounding the isolation. 

That’s crazy.

You will finish your dissertation, but in the meantime, you need a life.

If you have children, you probably feel as if you’ve been taking something away from your family.  They’ll be o.k., but spending time with the people you love nurtures you.  And it may actually help you think more clearly and creatively when you go back to your dissertation. 

If you have friends that you haven’t contacted in umpteen years/months, this might be the time.

If religion or church-going has ever been a part of your life, then maybe this is the time to stop in again.  If you were ever going to pray, this is the time for that, don’t you think? 

So when might you plan some time to spend with others?  How do you usually spend your week-ends?  If you’re like many dissertators, you plan to work on the week-end, but the time gets away from you.  And by Sunday night, most likely you realize that you didn’t spend the week-end doing anything you particularly enjoyed either.

What if you planned your next week-end to accommodate both dissertation writing and doing something you enjoy?

Recently, a client decided that she would work Saturday afternoon and then take a long bike ride on Sunday with her friends.  I pressed her, asking her what would lock in this idea, what would make it absolutely happen. By our talking about how it could be and how she would feel once Sunday night arrived, the plan came to life for her. 

Here are a few things that I hope you will remember.

Specifics:
1.  It is important to talk about how something is going to change.
2.  Put very detailed plans into writing and then review that plan throughout the week. 
3.  Make sure that your detailed plans include specifically what you want to accomplish in your work session.
4.   Do not let the work session bleed into the time for the rest of your life.  Follow my client’s lead:  work on Saturday; hold part of Sunday for what you want to do. 
5.  And do whatever it takes to include others. 

Starving yourself when you’re on a diet makes you mean, and probably shortens the life of the diet.

Depriving yourself while you write your dissertation can stunt your emotional and spiritual growth, creating a mean and maybe lonely person. 

And deprivation could make it easier for you to abandon the diss before it’s finished.

If you have a second, please drop by my website (www.nwcoaching.com) and sign up for my free e-newsletter.

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