Tactics for effective dissertation writing
If you clicked on that post title from somewhere else and thought you might be getting a thoughtful and comprehensive post filled with tips and advice about effective writing…well, sorry…
I am getting so close to the deadline of having to hand my dissertation into my committee. Close enought that I don’t even want to mention it. I am finishing up the Discussion section of the only remaining chapter. The other sections have been or are in the process of being reviewed by my coauthors. The figures and tables are done (except for a nifty summary figure that is still in my head).
So…the Discussion section. You know, this is the fun part, right? This is where you can leave all that anal-retentivity behind and freely postulate outrageous things! Well, not quite. But, it is certainly more interesting to write about implications your results may have than writing the bland (yet extremely important) descriptions of rocks, plots, cross sections, maps, and so on.
Being more interesting, however, is typically more challenging. I find myself sitting looking at the dang Word document staring right back at me as if to say “c’mon…do it…whaddya got?”
Here are a few of my tactics for effective writing:
- Jump around wildly from one sub-section to another with no apparent plan (see a previous post of mine about that method here).
- When you can’t think of anything to write but feel way too guilty to check your email or … gasp … post on your blog, futz around with your Acknowledgements, figure captions, or other such thing. Then it feels like your still working even though you’ve accomplished nothing.
- Look at the calendar again just to make sure you correctly counted how many days until the deadline. Depending on your emotional state (and caffeine level) this can lead to semi-severe panic, or it can lead to a moment of knodding your head and saying to yourself “this is easy, no problem, I’m so on top of this” … (it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe that, it’s all about survival now).
- Finally, at this point in the game, the deadline is so close that I simply cannot be separated from my computer. It is actually fused with my lap now. If a good idea or way to phrase something pops into my head, I need to be with the Word document ready to record it. If that window of opportunity shuts…that’s it. Gone.
These are just a few…i’m sure you all have your own tactics for effective writing. Feel free to educate me.
[image above from here]