Posts Tagged ‘positive psychology’

Dr. Tracy Steen has been editor of the All But Dissertation Survival Guide for several years, but has decided to step down. She is an eminent, ground-breaking positive psychologist with a psychotherapy practice, and she is also a coach.

As editor of the ABDSG, she applied her knowledge and experience as a positive psychologist to the subject of writing.

Her interesting and engaging editor’s notes framed and added pizzazz to each contributor’s article.

Before Dr. Steen became the editor of the ABD Survival Guide, she wrote an article that I think might be of particular help to you. It is called “Finding Flow in Writing.” The article ends with a summary of what you can do to move into flow while you are writing your dissertation. Dr. Steen writes,

a. For flow to occur, the task must be just within your abilities. So whatever part of your dissertation you are working on, find your challenge.

b. Flow occurs when you are engaged, not anxious. Do what you can to reduce your anxiety before sitting down to write. Go for a run, listen to relaxing music, put your worries on paper and then analyze them with a critical eye. Do whatever works best for you. Several past issues of the “ABD Survival Guide” offer excellent suggestions for dealing with anxiety.

c. You need to allow some time to get into what you are doing for flow to occur. Of course it is smart to rest and take breaks while writing. Just don’t take them at five minute intervals.

d. Flow happens when you are completely engaged in the task at hand. Don’t distract yourself by thinking about whether or not you are in flow. Just write!

We’ll miss her articles and editor’s notes, but do yourself a favor and go to the ABDSG website where you can look through the archives for articles by Dr. Steen.  You should also look for her editor’s note in each issue of the ABD Survival Guide from January 2006 forward. 

Best to you,


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

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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 Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach




nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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