It is important when writing your dissertation to stay in tune with yourself—your goals, your strengths and weaknesses, and the adjustments you may need to make to become the professional you would like to be. If after a little (or a lot of!) soul-searching you decide that you can commit to writing a dissertation, you'll soon see the benefits of following these rules of self-discipline.
- 1. Find help.
With family, religious, financial, home, and work responsibilities, life can be simply exhausting. Even confident students sometimes find themselves procrastinating in light of overwhelming obligations. Before you begin your dissertation, talk to friends and family members. Ask if you can call on them for small favors now and then to help lighten your load. Also, financial assistance can come in the way of fellowships, grants, scholarships, and loans—secure funding well beforehand so that your bills won't weigh you down.
- 2. Set aside time.
No one ever said that you need to write for two solid hours per day to finish your dissertation on time. But if you set aside even ten minutes per day and forgo all other activities in favor of your laptop, chances are your well-developed creativity will occasionally take over and you'll be inspired to write more. You can give that inspiration a little shove, too, by designating a sturdy, uncluttered, and well-lit writing space for your daily sessions.
- 3. Make friends.
One of the best things you can do to keep yourself motivated through your dissertation writing is hang out with like-minded people: other graduate students, professors, those who have completed a similar work, etc. In the presence of your peers, success will become your frame of reference, and you will be assured that as grueling as the process can seem at times, the payoff is well worth the effort. The best of your associates will assure you that, since most graduate students are not professional writers, your work will be at least on par with that of your contemporaries.
- 4. Reward (and punish) yourself.
Seek feedback from people whose opinions motivate you to be better. When the feedback is positive, allow yourself to begin the next daily writing session with a treat?have a cappuccino, rent a movie for later online, or send out a funny e-mail to friend. When the feedback is not quite what you expected, double your normal allotted time for writing that day.
A completed dissertation may often seem like an unrealistic dream that you will never achieve, but desire and determination are a hearty combination. Upon joining the world of highly-regarded scholars, you will look back and be thankful that you had the kind of integral dedication it took to finish the academic venture of a lifetime. Good luck!