Writing Dissertations

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If you feel shitty about the writing and force yourself to write anyway, you will not only finish your dissertation, you will allow yourself the opportunity to work through complicated arguments and say something interesting or even something pretty great.

That might not be feasible if you work or have young children, but plan on writing five days a week, no matter what, for a minimum of two hours each day. Here’s the rationale for writing every day: Writing is thinking. The biggest mistake I’ve seen most graduate students make is to mythologize what I call “the moment of genius.” Because writing is thinking, brilliant thoughts do not just appear on the page after long hours of arduous musing on a subject. candidates from diverse departments—from computer science to French literature, from anthropology to political science.

In my experience, the best ideas almost always come about through the act of writing itself—usually just at that moment when you’ve run out of steam and are staring down a seemingly intractable problem, desperately wanting to quit. When you’re writing a dissertation, one of the most difficult intellectual tasks a person can do, commitment to the writing process is far more important than genius. And despite the differences in discipline and style of writing, the process and my advice remain the same.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are no magical shortcuts to the production of prose, academic or otherwise.

Writing must become a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.

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