Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer Crunch - Day 4 Report

Today was tough and frustrating. Tougher than I thought. And did I mention it was a bit frustrating? It was unfortunate that I had to attend to something for work in the morning. This didn't please me very much, but it had to be done. Fortunately it didn't take much of my time, and it didn't require that I go into the office.

While writing, I got stuck several times, and after having such a productive few days last week, this was disappointing. I found it tough to know where to start and what to say. I attempted to start this one section over and over, but to no avail. And then my mind would wander too much and I would wonder what Wife and Moose were doing at home...

After refocusing, I ate way too much junk for dinner (my typical stress reaction). Still frustrated, I turned my back on the computer for a while. I opened a beer that I had been saving for when I felt comfortable taking a break. I stood up from the desk, and I spread out my papers across the bed in the hotel room. I looked over the notes and realized that if needed, I could stand in front of a room of people and discuss the various components of the theory. I could even bring in a few of the more memorable quotes off the top of my head. In fact, there were a few times since the spring that I attempted to construct the theory based upon what I was learning along the way, and those musings were among my notes that were spread out on the bed. So, I transported myself into the future, where I visualized myself presenting the results of my study at a professional conference. I spoke out loud, and I started to explain the theory to, well, to the bed. Slowly but surely, I was able to construct complete sentences. Suddenly my speech patterns became more confident, and I knew I was going somewhere.

So I started writing down some of what I had said. I still questioned the order in which things would go, but then I stopped thinking so damn much and started writing. I wrote a two-page brain dump at this point. It's not great, but it gives me a decent outline where to start plugging in quotes and such. It's a start.

Even though today was frustrating, I got more done on the dissertation today than I would have had I not taken the day off from work.

I plan to take the "stop thinking, start writing" approach tomorrow and just keep going. We shall see.


tommysmommy said...

Imagine how this would have gone at home...so glad you are doing this! Stream of consiousness may be good at this point too - then dump the crap and keep the good!

Charles T. Downey said...

The two best mantras I was ever given when I was in the dissertation phases were as follows.

For the writing phase, "better done than good." You can get bogged down thinking that you have to write the most brilliant prose you have ever written. No one's dissertation is their magnum opus. Even the best ones get seriously revised if they are published. Just get it down on paper as quickly and efficiently as possible. You will write your magnum opus later.

For the editing phase, "How do you finish your dissertation? Press print." This is related to the first mantra, in that you can also get bogged down fixing and tweaking and editing little things here and there forever. At some point, you just have to print it and let the damn thing go.

Good luck. I feel your pain.