Motivation and Encouragement for Dissertation Writers Across Disciplines

Dissertation Motivation: The Words of Others

In motivation on September 26, 2010 at 9:57 am

I’m afraid I ran out of my own words this week while working on my latest dissertation chapter.  So I’ve decided to provide you with some motivational words of others.

Read each quote slowly, taking from it what you need.


“But the essential support and encouragement of course comes from within, arising out of the mad notion that your society needs to know what only you can tell it.” – John Updike

“You don’t need special traits, special genes, or special motivation to write a lot.  You don’t need to want to write–people rarely feel like doing unpleasant tasks that lack deadlines–so don’t wait until you feel like it.  Productive writing involves harnessing the power of habit, and habits come from repetition.” — Paul Silvia, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, 129

“When you sit down to begin a piece of writing, your first aim ought to be to make a mess–to say anything that comes to your mind, on the subject or off it, not to worry at all about whether your stuff is connected logically, to play with your subject the way you used to build mud pies, to do no fine detail work, to spell poorly if that’s your natural inclination, and to generally forget about standards altogether (even about split infinitives!).  I suspect many writing blocks come about because people aren’t used to playing in the mud when they write; they think writing is a neat, clean endeavor.” — Joan Bolker, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis, 34

“People usually assume that writing is always meant to communicate with others.  What you use it that way you must think very carefully about it as writing… But writing is also very useful as a way to work out your thoughts and feelings for yourself alone.  when you use it in this way as a process of exploration and discovery, you don’t have to think carefully about it as writing (however carefully you may think about the matter that you are exploring).  Oddly enough, writing as exploration usually helps your writing as communication.” — Peter Elbow, Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, 100

“You have the right to work, but for the work’s sake only.  You have no rights to the fruits of work.  Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working.  Never give way to laziness, either… Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender… They who work selfishly for results are miserable.” — from the Bhagavad Gita

This week, I wish you all productivity, balance, and patience.  Happy writing!


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