Writing a dissertation requires discipline and good work habits but it is NOT a singular measure of your academic ability. Full disclosure: This post is not meant to be a treatise on how to best finish a dissertation… Writing 200 words can also mean doing a revision, a lit review, or annotated bibliography. Every now and then when we are picking a subject or research question, our advisors tell us to think about the job market. However, really ask yourself, “Am I going to be able to obsess about this for a year?
it just provides some tools that will help in getting it done! 200 words is an easy, accomplishable goal that if performed regularly, will give you close to 200 pages of written content in 8 months. ” If the answer is no, then don’t choose that topic. My dissertation was on race and comedy — something that I did during my free time as well.
” The phrase can easily inspire fear and guilt in the most intrepid of graduate students.
And while it is often used in jest, especially in online memes frequently shared by popular social media accounts like @Shit Academics Say, the sentiment is funny because it’s true. Of course, memes are not solely to blame for perpetuating this idea; they merely reflect a broader academic culture that often reinforces toxic norms surrounding “work-life” balance (or lack thereof) and the injunction to “publish or perish.” Nevertheless, I have often heard graduate students say that they feel like they have to give up everything else or shut themselves off in some little corner of the world to get their dissertation writing done.
Make sure you communicate the expectations you have of your committee and what they expect to see from you. Every day when you write, think about a specific sub chapter or section that you will be working on.
If there is a disagreement within the committee that’s for the dissertation chair to figure out — you continue writing! Do not start by saying, “And now for my next trick, I will write a 40-page chapter!
I have chosen to commit to working out, spending time with family and friends, watching more bad TV than I’m comfortable admitting, and training a puppy whose adorable face is matched only by his devilish tendencies. Potentially terrible analogy aside, many people have written about the benefits of writing incrementally and this strategy follows suit. This may seem antithetical to the previous tip, but it actually works in service of it. You can be flexible in what days you take off, as long as you’re hitting your target.
In short, I want to help make the process of writing your dissertation a little more streamlined and a little less overwhelming. By combining this particular set of strategies - some familiar, some developed as I went along - I managed to make the writing process accessible, feasible, and, yes, even ordinary. Good Writing Starts with Good Reading You’ve probably heard that “good readers make good writers.” Not only has active reading helped me formulate ideas in advance of writing, but other writers are a great source for learning about style, argumentative moves, etc. The best thing I have done has been committing to writing often, rather than procrastinating or leaving the work aside for too many consecutive days. While I suggest that you give yourself a time/word metric for the days on which you do work, I think it’s equally important to take breaks. Feeling like you have to work every single day can be counterproductive and turn writing into a chore. Beware the Blank Page Fear of the blank page is real.
We are often lead to believe that writing a dissertation has to be an intense, round-the-clock endeavor.
How many times have you heard the phrase or told yourself, “You should be writing?