And for that, you need to take a step back and take a realistic look at what a dissertation is, what it does, and why you're doing it.
Understanding how to finish a dissertation in a week (or, at the most, three or four months) comes down to understanding the real purpose of a dissertation on a purely pragmatic level.
Writing a dissertation requires discipline and good work habits but it is NOT a singular measure of your academic ability. Full disclosure: This post is not meant to be a treatise on how to best finish a dissertation… Writing 200 words can also mean doing a revision, a lit review, or annotated bibliography. Every now and then when we are picking a subject or research question, our advisors tell us to think about the job market. However, really ask yourself, “Am I going to be able to obsess about this for a year?
it just provides some tools that will help in getting it done! 200 words is an easy, accomplishable goal that if performed regularly, will give you close to 200 pages of written content in 8 months. ” If the answer is no, then don’t choose that topic. My dissertation was on race and comedy — something that I did during my free time as well.
” If you think too macro, you’ll feel like you’re floundering into the abyss of nothingness again. My wife happens to be a Behavior Analyst and from her I learned that if I gave myself a treat for completing a sub-section, transcribing lengthy interviews, or finishing a full chapter, I will be motivated to complete my assignments faster. Again and again, I talk to grad students who describe the pressure they feel from their advisors or an imagined community that will critique their work.
Think about what you can tangibly accomplish within a 200-word limit and work from there. For example, when I completed my second chapter, the family and I took a day trip out to the beach to celebrate. A dissertation is an assignment not an encapsulation of your life’s work. And I agree that some advisors are not as approachable/helpful in their feedback but no one is going to critique/read your dissertation outside your committee. In fact, I think she believes that I am a medical doctor, which would probably explain why she gave me a stethoscope for my birthday.
I would plan dates to show my committee each chapter so that they had ample time to review each chapter and give their feedback. Figure out what schedule and location works best for you and stick to it.
Having an end date really helps to focus your energy and attention and not feel like you’re floundering into the abyss of nothingness (which is also the title of my one man show…). For instance, I would wake up every morning at the same time, have the same strawberry flavored Light and Fit yogurt, and sip my Donut Shop coffee as I sat next to my dog and started writing.
A 200-word goal is very easy to accomplish and requires maybe 20 minutes of your time.
Whenever I felt burnt out, I would just go perform and feel reenergized, full of new insights and questions that my dissertation was going to engage in. Tell yourself that you will finish on a specific date and work backwards. Even though I missed that date, it gave me a concrete date to work backwards from.