Finishing Your Dissertation

Finishing Your Dissertation-13
By the end of the process, you will not only have finished your dissertation—you will also have learned the self-confidence that comes from knowing how to stay engaged when difficulties arise and the joy that comes from accomplishment in pursuit of your personal values. Miller, Ph D, is the founder and owner of The Dissertation Coach, a business dedicated to helping graduate students earn doctoral and master's degrees.

By the end of the process, you will not only have finished your dissertation—you will also have learned the self-confidence that comes from knowing how to stay engaged when difficulties arise and the joy that comes from accomplishment in pursuit of your personal values. Miller, Ph D, is the founder and owner of The Dissertation Coach, a business dedicated to helping graduate students earn doctoral and master's degrees.

Are you having difficulty finishing your dissertation?

Are you feeling stuck after trying various approaches, or panicky about the entire enterprise?

The greatest obstacle to any dissertation writer, by far, is the all-too-common tendency (conscious or not) to try to avoid the negative feelings associated with the difficult stages of the writing process.

If you make writing a part of your work-week routine, there will be good and bad days.

As a former journalist, assistant professor, and seasoned dissertation-writing-workshop coach at New York University, I can promise you there is only one fail-safe method, one secret, one guaranteed trick that you need in order to finish your dissertation: Write. If you want to complete your dissertation in a reasonable amount of time—and trust me, you do—you must learn to prioritize the act of writing itself and write every day.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are no magical shortcuts to the production of prose, academic or otherwise.

Writing must become a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.

Here’s the basic, scalable program that I recommend: Sit your butt down in a chair, preferably in a quiet and distraction-free room.

In my experience, the best ideas almost always come about through the act of writing itself—usually just at that moment when you’ve run out of steam and are staring down a seemingly intractable problem, desperately wanting to quit. When you’re writing a dissertation, one of the most difficult intellectual tasks a person can do, commitment to the writing process is far more important than genius. And despite the differences in discipline and style of writing, the process and my advice remain the same.

If the smartest person in the world cannot learn to write, then she won’t be a successful academic. Everyone struggles with similar technical and emotional issues: procrastination, distraction, anxiety, structuring an argument, finding their voice, integrating theory and evidence.

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