Dissertation Procrastination

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Pretty soon your writing time is over and you haven’t written a single word.

You promise yourself that you’ll do better tomorrow, but the next day comes and goes with the same result.

For most dissertation writers, the inability to develop and maintain a daily writing practice is due to one of three things: 1) technical errors, 2) psychological obstacles or 3) external realities.

While I’ve written about those in detail elsewhere, let me provide a quick dissertation-specific overview so that you can diagnose why you’re not writing and then design a quick and effective work-around.

The sad part is that it’s not the research that is holding up my progress (it is mostly complete) and it’s not my committee (they are supportive and want me to finish). I’m starting to think that I may never finish and will end up another A. That means you’re not the only person who has struggled while A. In other words, how can you design your work time to ensure that you have everything you need to complete your dissertation this year?

Only you can answer these questions, but I would like to share a few insights and gentle suggestions.After a week, you decide the whole daily writing thing doesn’t really work for someone like you.I call this daily struggle “the battle of the moment.” It’s the moment that it’s time writing -- the hardest moment to move through -- and if you can just get going you’ll be fine.I encourage you to become aware of it and accept it for what it is. (Even 10 minutes will get you through the moment.) The goal is to win the moment each day.Once you can stack up enough daily wins, you’ll see that you’re making progress on your dissertation.Get Real About Daily Writing I know I sound like a broken record on this point, so I’ll be brief.You cannot binge write a dissertation over a weekend, over a weeklong writing retreat or even if you hide in a cave for a month. We know that the most productive academic writers don’t write in large uninterrupted blocks of time; they write every day (Monday through Friday) in small increments.For that reason, much of what you write is for you, for your own thought process, and may never be shared with your committee or make it to the final draft. ” Win the Battle of the Moment If you’re like the majority of dissertation writers I’ve worked with, your initial attempts at daily writing fail. Because you experience a repeating and self-defeating pattern that looks like this: you set aside time in your calendar for dissertation writing and you fully intend to write during that scheduled time.Then when the time comes, you experience a subtle but powerful urge to do but write.In fact, it literally means with 30 minutes a day, boo.When you’ve got that locked down, work your way up to longer periods of writing.

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