Motivation and Encouragement for Dissertation Writers Across Disciplines

Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category


In motivation on April 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I just wanted to highlight this recent comment from a reader:

Mark says, “May I encourage you from just across the line? I finished my dissertation and received my PhD only about six weeks ago. Now it has been accepted by a major publisher and will be released later this year! Don’t give up! Your dreams are waiting.”

Thanks, Mark!


TD:D Blog Carnival: Volume 4, Edition 1

In motivation, online resources, TD:D Blog Carnival on October 7, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Welcome to another edition of the TD:D Blog Carnival!

Enjoy the posts below and make sure to check back next week for another edition.

Reading Tips

Using Mendeley to Manage Readings and Citations by Meagan Kittle Autry

“It seems that half of the battle in a PhD program is not doing the work, but knowing how to accomplish it. Sure, I can read through five journal article PDFs for a class, but what’s the best way of going about reading/annotating/synthesizing and coming up with discussion points for class?”

Reading Strategies for Graduate Students by Meagan Kittle Autry

“I want to think seriously about reading strategies and how graduate students can not only get all of the reading done, but get something out of it also. Here’s what I’ve got thus far.”

The Writing Life

Walking and Talking by Jennie Nash

“I often walk with friends from my neighborhood or my kid’s school. We meet in the morning right after we drop off kids, and walk for an hour or more, either at the beach, on trails that wind their way around the hilly peninsula near us, or if we’re in a hurry, near our homes. None of these women are writers, or editors, or anyone working in the book business, but when I walk with them, I get some of my best story ideas.”

The Best Writing Rituals by The Huffington Post

“Some authors write standing, while some write lying down. Some write early in the morning, while others stay up all night. Some write in a warm blanket, while others write in nothing at all!.  All told, writers are a quirky breed of people often deeply invested in a bevy of strange habits to get them in the mood to work. So, what are the best circumstances under which to write? What are the best #writingrituals?”

Being Real

Advising the Dissertation Student Who Won’t Finish by Leonard Cassuto

“A former graduate student wrote me a note a few months ago to thank me for helping him drop out. What’s wrong with that picture? Nothing, except that we don’t see it often enough.”

For Fun

What Book Would Prompt You to Talk to a Stranger? by Nathan Bransford

Looking for some non-dissertation reading?  Scroll through the comments in response to this question – some great (and funny) suggestions!

The TD:D blog carnival is published weekly on Thursdays.

If you would like to submit a post for the TD:D blog carnival, email your link to tododissertation[at]gmail[dot]com by the previous Wednesday at noon.

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!