Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just Do It.

Now that grades are in and I am no longer teaching, I can finally focus on finishing Chapter 2. It's a relief, to say the least. I can put aside my dissertation guilt and get to work. As I was finishing with grades, all I could think about was, I need to get back to work! I have a deadline coming up! So many ideas! So many ideas! But once I sat down to work on Saturday, nothing came out.

Maybe it was the burnout of the semester that took over. I tried to sit down and freewrite, so I ended up thinking about organization of the chapter (something I haven't really thought about). That didn't really get me anywhere, for how can I organize a chapter if I haven't put down my thoughts on paper? What do you organize when you have little to organize?

I stepped away from my work and decided to get back to it on Monday. (I try not to write on Sundays to take a break from the dissertation. However, I don't think it counts as a break when I'm constantly thinking about the dissertation. Ugh, dissertation guilt!) On Sunday I did some reading and planned my dissertation work for Monday.

Once Monday morning rolled around, I was eager to sit down. But my plans did not pan out. There was plenty of craziness Monday (including an unplanned trip to my ex-school to fetch some student records only to find that the office was closed), and what I ended up doing was just jotting down ideas that were swarming my head. As a result, I went into panic mode: I'm supposed to be writing, not scribbling ideas!

I have to admit: I am fretting over this chapter, a little too much considering the amount I've already written. I think I'm obsessing over my advisor's comments for the last chapter: this needs a lot of editing and you need to take time to do that. It's the little voice inside my head. I know I should just file it and move on, but I haven't.

On Tuesday, I was catching up with Susan, and she gave me a piece of advice: to paraphrase, she told me I should just write everything down, not worry about incorporating the criticism. Just do it. Although I've done this in the past (and it's the kind of advice I give my students when they don't know what to write), I don't know why it didn't click for me. Of course, why not write it down? Ugh!

This makes me think that, as a writer and as a writing instructor (ex-writing instructor), I sure have forgotten about the basics of putting your ideas down on paper. Isn't a dissertation just another written text? Sure, it's a genre in itself. Sure, it poses challenges unlike other kinds of writing. But in the end, it's writing, right? So why am I so afraid of writing?

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