WTF: Making Progress

Last month we covered the fundamentals of dissertating: what a dissertation is, why you have to do one, and different ways of thinking of your dissertation.

This month we’re going to give you some tips on how to overcome writer’s block and make progress.

Before we dive into that, though, it might be worth spending a little bit of time talking about why it can be so hard to make progress.

One of the biggest problems is that very few people read a dissertation before they write one and it’s incredibly hard to write in a genre you’re unfamiliar with.

SHAMELESS PLUG: This is why we created the Dissertation as Narrative webinar which we will be hosting again soon. Use the Contact form to reserve a seat!

Aside from the multiple problems with the dissertation genre and how it’s taught to Phd candidates, there is a problem with the process as well.

Many, many, many people I have talked to found that the PhD process stole the sense of wonder they had around their project.

I said “people” there because I don’t just mean clients or friends. I mean faculty. I mean tenured faculty.

I spoke to a professor who was crushing it: she had recently become the director of her program, she was publishing, she was teaching, she was an in-demand speaker. By every marker of academic success she was making it and she told me that, by the time she deposited her dissertation, she didn’t want to look at it ever again.

She did, eventually, look at her dissertation again and edit it and publish it, but if you are getting a little sick of your subject you are not alone and it does not mean you are doomed to be an academic failure.

Even if you still love your project, you might be struggling to maintain the balance between what you really want to say about it and the feedback you’re getting from outside sources. Sometimes, in trying to make your project “marketable” you lose your compass and don’t know how to move the argument forward.

Sometimes you just lose track of what you’re trying to say. There are so many important points its easy, and common, to lose track of what the most important one is.

These are some of the most common reasons that people stall in their writing.

Well, the most common reasons are that life rudely keeps happening like you aren’t trying to write a fudging dissertation, but, assuming life is manageable these are the most common reasons people stall.

The good news is, I went through several of these in my own writing process, and I’ve coached clients through the rest. For the next month we’ll be sharing tips and how to work through each of these. Progress guaranteed or your reading time back 😉

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