Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year, New Goals

Hello readers. I have returned.

It's been a while, but I am back on track on the dissertation. Last semester was so weird and so intense for me (I was juggling a lot of balls at once), and the result was that I oftentimes pushed stuff back...or order to get through all the school work I had to do. But this semester I have resolved, like Susan, to make my dissertation a PRIORITY. So as of January 7th, I have been working on my dissertation little by little, everyday.

The thing is, as a teacher and a new mom, I am not able to take days to research, read, and write. When you're a full-time grad student with no children who's still completing coursework, you get used to all-nighters or entire weekends at the library where you could churn out a paper, peruse articles at your leisure, or walk along the stacks until you feel tired. Once you get into the real world, you can't take the time to do that. You can't afford it. (And Susan will agree with me on this: it's not easy to work full-time AND dissertate.) And so you have to come up with a new modus operandi. That was my problem for, say, the past year or so: how do I unlearn the way I am used to producing academic work? Or rather, what is another way of producing academic work? While I was figuring that out, I was frustrated, upset, and confused.

I finally realized, recently, that I can only work in spurts. I quit complaining about how I wish I had a day--JUST A DAY--to write. To research. To read. To google. It's not gonna happen. Not right now at least. In the meantime, I still have to pay tuition, still have to register for another semester, still have to wake up early and take care of my baby. So I'm trying something new, and so far it's been working for me: I work an hour a day. Yes, I know, I was doing that last semester. And it backfired. Why? Because I'd work at night. At the end of the semester that wasn't so practical anymore, because either I was exhausted from work or I would take the time to grade and plan lessons so I could get a little extra sleep in the morning. Now I have moved my "dissertation hour" to earlier in the day; I have come to realize that no matter what happens with my daily schedule, my morning usually looks the same. I procrastinate less in the morning. I may not be as productive daily, but at the end of the week I feel like I have a little bit of something to show.

So there you have it, folks: Susan and I, two dissertators, blogging about what it's like to write a dissertation. We are hoping to show you two ways of writing a dissertation. Neither is easy. Two different approaches, but both looking for the same end result--a PhD.

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