Congratulations if you're in the dissertation writing phase as a doctoral student. You are now on the final stretch of a marathon that you have been running for years. Only half of those who begin the race will make it to the finish line. What's the secret to finishing? I often tell myself, "Just keep writing." This mantra has helped me on the days that I have felt the most tired or hopeless.
To get to this point, your trajectory as a doctoral student has looked something like this: You have finished your coursework, formed your committee, passed your comprehensive test, written your proposal, had it approved, submitted, and you have been approved for candidacy.
Be prepared for the next step. Now, you must write the most daunting research paper you have ever written in your life. Do not let this intimidate you. You have been preparing for this moment your entire life. You know what it means to be a lifelong scholar.
For me, the problem is continuing the writing process when I have felt utterly exhausted. Unlike Rip Van Winkle, I don't have 20 years to sleep it off.
These tips have worked for me. They might work for you:
1. Commit to writing every day
. Maybe you'll write one sentence or one paragraph. Over time, this will add up. Slow but steady wins the race.
2. Figure out when you're most productive as a writer.
For me, the words flow out of me in the wee hours of the morning. Even as an undergraduate student, I was never able to pull an all-nighter. Writing at night doesn't work for me. Perhaps it might work for you.
3. Find your happy place (for writing).
I have a desk at home with magnetic marble and a lavender candle. I try to keep my desk as clean as possible at all times so that it looks inviting. Find whatever works for you.
Maybe you want to give up. Don't. Just keep writing!
You are most likely tired of your topic, but that's normal. Just keep writing.
Angela is a Ph.D. student in the Hispanic Studies department of the College of Liberal Arts