Get to know what your committee is expecting from you and your dissertation. Follow their advice and make sure you read over a few dissertations from students that have worked with your committee before so that you are well aware of what they have grown to expect. Ask what expectations they have from your chapters so that you know how footnotes will be used, what kinds of sources you want to use, and how they feel about headings and chapter structure. If you know their expectations you will know how to effectively write to the audience. If you don’t know, then ask. This is the best way to avoid pitfalls during your writing process.
Remember as you write that this is your work, and at the end of the day it is a representation of who you are in the academic world right now. Make sure that you stand up for the things you believe and that you avoid trying to please everyone; it cannot be done so do not waste your time.
Take a break when you need it. It is important to take some time off for your personal happiness. Your dissertation will take time to write, and you will need to recharge throughout the writing process. You might have to leave and focus your energy somewhere else like watching cartoon movies, playing with your nieces, or teaching. You should take short breaks and know that they are all still part of the writing and creativity process.
This will help you to avoid feeling guilty about taking personal moments when you need them.Remember though, that as you write, your short breaks are great. Take one week off or two weeks off a few months later, but always start writing again. Academic work requires you to balance your academic pressures and your writing responsibilities. Do not stick around years longer than you need to because you didn’t remember to pick up writing again after your short break.
As you write, be sure to celebrate your little accomplishments. Take a moment to appreciate all of the hard work you have put into writing. Reward yourself as you go along. If you finish one page, enjoy a cookie. If you finish a chapter, grab a bottle of wine to celebrate. If you finish working through data you had a problem with, take the night off. Do not let bad feelings stop you from working and meeting deadlines. Don’t let small accomplishments distract you from the long term goals you have. Remember that you can do it!
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