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Dissertation writers tell me they often find themselves writing in chaos.  It’s not clear to them where they’re headed or how long it’s going to take to get wherever it is they’re going.

Occasionally a cultural ritual, like the summer vacation, is a marker that writers use to cut through the chaos.

The vacation can be something to aim for, a lighthouse, if you will. Paddling toward that lighthouse gives a direction. A limited amount of time adds a sense of urgency. Having a concrete goal adds clarity and motivation.

Put together a limited amount of time, a direction and a concrete goal, and you have the makings of a plan.  Nothing relieves stress or pulls you out of chaos like having a plan, unless it’s putting that plan into operation.

Some of my clients have a specific amount of writing they want to do, such as finishing the lit review before going on vacation.

One client says that she’s giving her committee what she has done before she leaves for a two-week vacation, but she’s redefined for herself what it is she will submit.

Her plan is to make a plan, a detailed plan, for the direction her work is taking.

Her approach is to work on the Introduction to clarify the argument. Then for the subsequent chapters, she is working through the argument.  She is stepping back to see where she is heading, making sure her argument flows,  chapter to chapter, with adequate support. She will also make sure she is adding the feedback and comments she has received so far from her committee.  She’s not working on surface issues—save that sort of thing for the end.

When she is back from vacation this concrete approach will put her in a good place to write more easily, eliminate the feeling of writing in chaos, and alleviate the stress factor.

From time to time as you write a dissertation, you need to step back to see where you are headed.  Take stock of what you have done and what you need to rework, as well as make sure you have a concrete plan to keep you on course for what is ahead. 

Is a vacation coming up for you?  This could be the time to check your course.  It also may be just the time to add a bit of hustle to your work.  Push a little harder to pull together your argument and to add pages of text.

From time to time, you may need to adjust your approach. 

What is the nearest marker for you?  How are you using it to advance your planning and your writing?

 I’d love to hear from you.

Happy June,

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

 

 

 

 

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You’ve made a big deadline?  Hurray for you!

If you’ve sent off a revised draft of a chapter or major chunk of your dissertation to your advisor or you’ve finished multiple revisions of an article and sent it off to a journal, pat yourself on the back, think about what comes next….

And then take some time off.  It could be two days or a week, but give yourself time to regenerate and restore your depleted resources.

Go swimming.  Read a novel.  Spend time with a friend or your partner.

Afraid that you will hide out when it’s time to get back into action?  Then put a few things in place to help you get back o.k.

Here are four tips to help you make an easier reentry:

1. Mark your calendars for the day and the time you will be back at work. Make the start time as important as a departure time would be for you if you had a flight scheduled that day. Plan to do your laundry or check your email much earlier or much, much later, but not at the time you are restarting your writing.

2. Clarify the first steps.  Determine some specifics on what to do that first day back at work. Why bother to set a date to start, if you sabotage yourself by having no plan? 
 
3. Learn from the past.  If you are a bit monkey-brained as you think about planning your first steps after you return, free-write now for five minutes about what you have learned from the work you’ve just completed, learning that you will put into play for the next section or chapter or writing project.

4. Put your plans where you can’t miss them.  Situate the plans to be the first things you see when you turn on your computer or print them out so they’re physically in the middle of your clean desk.
 
You deserve a guilt-free break.  Mark your calendars and publicize the day and time you’ll be back at work. Put your plans for your first steps after you return in plain sight. A small price for a guilt-free break!

I would love to hear how you make a break part of your writing process.

Until next time,

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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Are you worried about losing your momentum while you’re on vacation?  But does working on your dissertation while vacationing seem depressing?

Actually, writing while you’re on vacation may be easier and more pleasant than you think.

Vacation will make you feel happier and livelier.  Since it’s easier to write when you’re happy, you may be surprised at how normal and uncomplicated it is to take a peek now and then at your dissertation while you’re on vacation.

Here are 5 tips to help you maintain your writing momentum and still enjoy your vacation.

1.  Plan ahead before leaving home.  Have a list of modest writing tasks that you can do on vacation.

2. Make use of small chunks of time.  You can’t find one quiet hour each day away from the family while vacationing?  Then claim 25 minutes every day or two for your writing.

3.  Use the different location and break in your routine to your advantage.   Writing in a hotel room or on a balcony looking toward the mountains is not your usual ho-hum, one-more-day- at- the- library approach.  Get up while others are still snoozing and write for a bit.  Take a legal pad and a pen and walk to a bench in a quiet area.

4.  Balance is possible.  Approach each day well rested, exercise, eat well, and give yourself permission to see that your writing project is part of your life, not your whole life.  

5.  Anticipate the unexpected.  Your marvelous brain can spontaneously give you ideas, right out of the blue.  Dissertation coaching clients tell me of breakthroughs they have had when they were on vacation or when they have changed their routine.  Jogging, swimming, staring into space—you never know when an idea might hit! 

Now that’s a great vacation.

All good wishes,

Nancy
P.S. There’s an added bonus to working 25 minutes on your dissertation every day or two while you’re on vacation:  Restarting your daily writing habit when you get home will be much easier.

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

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