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Posts Tagged ‘restart writing’

A caller asked if I had ever coached someone who had become stalled on a house renovation project.  My answer was no, but what came to mind was how similar all big projects are.   How difficult it can be to keep going.  How crushing the project can become. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Let’s say it was you who started the renovation project. You envisioned the changes you were going to make. You put together a plan to accomplish those changes.

And you took on this project in part because of what you wanted to prove to yourself.

Following through on such a commitment takes courage and resilience.  I’ve seen someone with these qualities accomplish an amazing home renovation project.  He almost single-handedly built a large room onto their house. He’s an accomplished man, but he’s not a carpenter, nor is he an architect. Nevertheless, over many months, the structure came together, and it’s a lovely addition to their home.

Completing such a project must be more than satisfying.  I would guess that the end feeling would be relief coupled with enormous joy in the accomplishment.

But if the renovation project, just like a stalled dissertation, is yours and if you’re stuck, re-starting takes courage and a willingness to look with new eyes at what this project will require from you.

Here are the five steps to help you restart:

1.  You need a plan, the more detailed the better.  A plan, with specific details, will guide you, and it will also be a way of keeping track.  It’s easier to keep going when you can check off items on a list or a plan.

2.  Make realistic, manageable goals each and every day or work session. Short-term goals and next steps keep you focused on the present.  And that’s where you have to work.

3.  When you accomplish the day’s goal, stop for the day—it may be counterproductive to push yourself beyond a reasonable stopping point.  Stopping when you’ve reached a realistic goal gives you the strength to come back another day.  If you go beyond the realistic goal, you start to risk burn-out or exhaustion. Exhaustion makes it much harder to return to the project.

4.  After you quit for the day, acknowledge yourself for the courage it took to come back to the project yet another day and to do what you said you were going to do.  Big Gold Stars!

5.  Draw on that feeling of renewed courage and the surge of joy to start your work another day.

Embarrassment, discouragement, and shame are likely to accompany getting stuck on something as open and visible as a home renovation or building project. Having one’s failure on public display can be brutal.  But the dread of being found out when a failure isn’t so visible, as in being stalled on a dissertation, is also brutally hard to bear. 

Life’s too short to live in dread or shame. You have a choice. I say get started on that detailed plan, plot your first step, and then take it.

Are you stalled on a dissertation, or have you been stalled?  What is your next step?  I’d love to hear from you.

All good wishes to you,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
http://www.smarttipsforwriters.com
http://www.dissertationbootcamp.net
http://www.nancywhichard.com
nancy @ nancywhichard.com

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Many times writers hire me to coach them because they’re stuck.  They haven’t made substantial progress on their dissertation for months. 

What stuck often means is that the writers are having trouble claiming a chunk of time for the writing because of time-sucks.  Time-sucks come in all sizes and shapes. 

Facebook and email will be your undoing.  
Friend—give them up!  

In the interest of full disclosure, I do go on Facebook, but only because my nieces talked me into doing it.  I joined in order to see pictures of the little ones who live far and away.  No matter how many subscriptions I give to Your Big Backyard, Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids and Cricket, I get fewer and fewer pictures in the mail.  Thank-you notes, yes.  Pictures of the kids, not so many.  Thus, Facebook, but it’s just for the pictures. 

Babies are notorious time-sucks.
Being a parent is high on the list for time-sucks, especially if your kids are young.   The youngest addition to my extended family showed up in a picture on Facebook with the words “Mommy’s attention hog” on his t-shirt. 

Because of a singular moment, I remember what I was thinking or not thinking around the time my youngest started kindergarten.  I was standing in line at the grocery and for the first time in ages I was startled to catch myself lost in thought. 

When one has kids, the state of being lost in thought takes planning and distance.  

Mindless activities get few gold stars.
How much cleaning and straightening and folding do you need to do in order to feel good?  I think the more mindless activities you do, the worse you feel, kind of like eating Snickers bars, but I may be wrong. 

I am bothered by the stacks of files and papers in my house. I’ve delegated those decluttering tasks to 2 hours on Sunday while I watch TV.  Today was the second Sunday for using my new plan, and I’ve cleaned up a few stacks.  Two hours seem about right for me.  Any more than that and I’m suspicious that I’m procrastinating on something more important. 

Feel guilty asking for help from your spouse?
Moms, especially, think they can multi-task, even if it’s writing a dissertation at the same time as they’re refereeing a tug-of-war the boys are having over a toy. 

A favorite story from a client was that she felt guilty asking her husband to take care of the kids on a Sunday afternoon when he worked so hard all week, and she, ostensibly, only had to take care of the kids.  The husband didn’t really mind taking care of the kids,  She would go to the library, and he would add seats for the kids in front of the TV—and not to watch cartoons, but to watch golf!  Not the worst thing, right?  The story goes that the kids learned to love golf. 

What I hear from my clients suggests that time skitters around corners, never to be seen, never to be caught, much as if it were a two-year-old.  Sometimes it sounds as if time makes itself available only to the lucky or to those with nannies or to the childless. 

It’s true that there are inequities.  Too often women have waited their turn to finish a degree.  The spouse finishes first, and then if there are kids, moms can sometimes put their writing further and further down on their priority lists. 

But the person who takes responsibility for negotiating relationships and asking for what she needs will see time emerging.  

Time is both elusive and valuable. Be bold and brave— ask your spouse for what you need.  Carve time out of the day, and claim that precious commodity for your important, but sadly neglected job of writing.   Plan and use time as if it were made of gold. Because it is. 

I’d love to hear from you—what challenges are you having around time? 

All good wishes, 

Nancy 

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

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When you’re going nowhere fast on your dissertation, it’s time to try something different.

In a blog post a few months ago I asked what bold action you would take for the sake of your writing (“What Bold Step Would You Take to Gain 2 Good Writing Days?”).  In today’s blog I want to share with you the story of someone bravely stepping out of the things-as-usual routine that had left her mired, stuck, and exhausted.

For the past several months she had been feeling awful because she wasn’t meeting deadlines and she wasn’t able to move forward on her dissertation.

It was time to try something different.

She took a week off, found a good deal on a hotel about an hour away from her house, and packed up her dissertation notes and drafts. She had no expectation that during the week of vacation she would do any work on the diss. If she made progress, that would be lovely, but she was not going to consider herself a failure if she did nothing.

Once in her hotel room, she spread her dissertation materials all over the entire room.  She sorted things into piles.  She could touch everything, look at it, and think about it.

Unlike her feelings about her diss over the past few months, she wasn’t anxious; she didn’t feel sick to her stomach.

As she told me later, she said to her diss spread over every surface in the room, “I’m just going to look at you.  You’re completely benign.  You’re not going to ruin my vacation.  I’m just going to be present with you.”

When she got up the next day, she was curious about the different parts of her diss spread around the room, and she began reading, and making notes. She felt as if she were involved in an exciting little adventure

She stayed in the hotel for a few days.   Each morning, she felt very positive and looked forward to the day, wondering what she would accomplish.  She worked through the day, not even thinking about food until evening.

At week’s end, when it was time to pack everything up and leave, she was sad, but the experience had helped her to look more clearly at her project.

It is a big project, she said, but it was all sitting there in that room.  There was nothing overwhelming about it.

The exciting adventure had helped her reframe her perspective.  Today she is choosing to view the diss as a manageable situation.  Her plan is to keep her vacation vibe going and to bring it into her space for writing in her house.

How about you? What brave investment are you willing to make for the sake of your writing?

I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time!

Nancy

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

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As you write your dissertation, have you wondered how you are going to make it through those times when you feel as if you’ve been punched in the stomach? those low points that come after devastating setbacks?

Do you ever say to yourself, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

Most of us have at one time or another.

When you are knocked off your feet by an unexpectedly critical evaluation of a proposal or a chapter, what do you do?

As I think this morning about what happened in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, I’m struck with how winning for two politicians came on the heels of huge setbacks.

John McCain’s presidential fortunes at one time had been so low that he had been all but written off.

And who gave Hillary Clinton any chance at all of winning in New Hampshire after being beaten so badly in Iowa?

It has to take a deep reservoir of courage and trust– trusting in one’s self even when you feel incredibly wounded–to come back from huge political defeats.

The same can be said for rebounding from a setback in the dissertation process.

Even though you’ve had a severe setback, you still have choices.

And to find the will to make a choice, you go to your own deep pool of resources.

Deciding that you are going to do whatever you can to get back on your feet, making a choice, and taking action can in the long-run give you strength that you would be hard-put to find in any other way.

That new strength becomes part of your inner resources.

It will be there for you to call on when you hit another snag in your life or career or writing.

I’d love to hear what your experiences have been.  How have you dealt with setbacks?

Until next time,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com
http://www.nancywhichard.com
www.nwcoaching.com

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