Saturday, November 15, 2008

PhD: Blocked

I know some full-blown PhDs, as well as a number of my fellow doctoral students, read this. Anyone get blocked on the dissertation? I'm partway into drafting my first chapter and am really having a hard time with getting sufficiently motivated to finish it up.

7 comments:

Chrystal Ocean said...

The solution for me was not to panic or worry about it. Being blocked usually meant that I needed to get serious about some R & R. It always turned out that, eventually, the block would move out of the way and I'd be ready to get down to it again.

One problem I had was in my approach - always had to do things in a linear, logical fashion; i.e., from page 1 through to the last page, in that order. No working on the middle for me!

Turns out that a less orderly technique works well for other people. I'm less anal now and would likely try it, if I had it to do over again.

So, if nothing comes to you for chapter 2, try looking ahead and drafting something for, say, chapter 5.

ADHR said...

It's a good strategy. But I don't think it works for this project, unfortunately. The argument I'm making is cumulative, so if I don't have the starting chapters at least roughed-in, I can't get to the rest!

undergroundman said...

I've never been able to write well until the last few days. That's not feasible in large projects.

The advice that gets passed around is to not worry about whether what you're doing is perfect, or even very good. The point is to be doing the right thing at an average (or even below average) intensity. As long as your time and energy is focused on the right thing, eventually things work.

Given the amount of blogging you've been doing in the past couple months, I'm gonna bluntly guess that your focus has not been on the thesis as much as it could be. :p

ADHR said...

Less blogging than teaching, really. The bulk of what I've been doing on the blog has been on days when I'm teaching, which are basically write-offs as far as producing anything in terms of a manuscript. Unfortunately.

undergroundman said...

Yeah, teaching is a pain, I've heard.

I'm working in a very relaxed job as a government bureaucrat. It's what I both dreaded and hoped for -- terribly boring, but tons of free time to think about things. And enough money to play in the stock market.

ADHR said...

A massive pain. You have no idea. ;) In the ideal world, I would be teaching half the students and only teaching them for an hour a day, 3 days a week. That way, they could actually absorb the material and I could focus on what they actually needed. Instead, I have 2-3 times that many, and I see them for too long (one class twice a week for 90 minutes, one class once a week for 3 hours). It's madness.

A bureaucrat? Hm. I find your views intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter....

undergroundman said...

I'm not really following. I don't have a newsletter. :p