Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 3 dissertation notes (Week 15): What to do next?

This week has had all the awkwardness that re-entry following holiday travel typically does. Which is to say that I didn't accomplish a great deal.

I did, as promised, meet with my professor on Monday; but I'm not yet sure what will come of it. He was sympathetic and wants to do what he can to help me finish successfully. He was already scheduled to meet with my adviser the following day on other matters, so he expected that they would discuss my project and present impasse. I . . . hope that's good? I haven't heard anything yet. In any case, I suppose it's good to have brought him into the loop. I probably should have done it much sooner.

After our meeting, too, I sent him, in effect, all the writing I've done so far: about 90 pages' worth written during 2014, plus about 15 pages summarizing research I did over this summer and fall in the attempt to jump-start or revamp the stalled dissertation. Looking over it all, I wasn't sure what to think. On one hand: nearly a hundred pages of dissertation in under a year; that's not too shabby. On the other hand: It's something like 30,000 words in a year, with little new material written since that time. Which is . . . not very impressive at all.

The main reason I haven't produced much in 2015 is because I've been revising existing material, repeatedly, in the hope of shaping the project in accordance with the way I'm being advised. I miss writing... Last December, when I set a modest daily page count in order to meet my 100-page goal before Christmas, I did well with it, and kind of enjoyed it. That was one of the most productive and hopeful phases of the process, and it made the thing seem doable. So I'm wondering if I should set a writing goal of some kind for the next few weeks. Problem is, the last time I took that approach, I was told to quit worrying about page count because the project's structural bones weren't solid enough. So it's a conundrum -- I need to write in order to get my thoughts flowing and stay motivated; but each time I submit some writing, it seems I've moved myself further away from the goal of having a completed dissertation.

I can't expect someone to offer a magic bullet. I wish I could! But I have to do something proactive to keep from wallowing. So, barring other advice from my professor(s), my goal is: write 5 pages of something by next Thursday. Something, even if it's just five more pages of the project as I envisioned it before. Actually, what I should probably do is write five more pages of the new project outline my advisor's hoping to see (even though I'd halfway set it aside, fearing that it's a non-starter in itself and that I'm basically just BSing). Maybe BSing is the key right now, instead of trying to convey some grand idea?

Anyway, I'll write something, if only so that I don't spend another week tied up in knots of confusion, shame, and frustration over it all. If that goes well, I'll aim for 7-10 the following week.

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible to do both? Spend maybe an hour before lunch writing the original grand idea, and then an hour after lunch writing the adviser-desired BS? That way you could work on both in parallel, and maybe when the original is finished, you can use that after all.