Friday, January 29, 2010

481 words

Thank you to everyone who left helpful comments in the last post! Sometime in the near future, I'm going to write a post that summarizes everyone's dissertation advice. (Although that pretty much guarantees that it will never happen.)

I actually sat down and wrote a page and a half of dissertation today. I can't believe I did it. My intention was that I would first finish reading all the theoretical sources and make some notes, and then write the beginning of the chapter, outlining my theoretical framework.

But then yesterday, while I was sitting and waiting for (and after) my allergy shot, I took out my little dissertation brainstorming notebook and started trying to list all my primary sources (except for the newspaper articles), listing the pertinent themes I found in them and where I could mention them in chapters. That process gave me a few new ideas for different ways to look at my illness/corruption chapter (the one I'm working on right now).

And then this morning, while I was showering (which is where I have my best ideas), I thought of a couple of sentences that could describe one of my ideas. And so I decided to start my day's work by writing out those sentences in an official "Illness & Corruption Chapter" word document. And then, after bouncing a couple of ideas off of Ky, I sat down and wrote out a complete argument about another one of my books.

And so I've started by writing 481 words of the middle of the final chapter. And I can't even begin to describe how good this feels; this writing came pretty easily to me and I'm having more and more ideas. And I've officially moved past that scary milestone that is "Starting to write my dissertation." I'm no longer about to start writing: I've started writing.

And then I turned around and (I think) figured out how to use Zotero, and I love it. I was tempted to just enter my footnotes manually, and then finally figured out how to make this thing work. Provided that I can figure out how to cite newspapers and films as well. (Update: I've figured that out! Huzzah!)

And now I have to have a hundred or so days like this, and I'll have a draft.


Julia H. said...

Yay!! Congratulations! I'm so proud of you. It is very exciting watching you progress through your PhD. I'm so impressed with not just your physical "getting work done" progress, but with your mental "I am capable, I CAN do this" progress. You are awesome.

The History Enthusiast said...

Very awesome! If you keep at it just a little at a time, it will maintain that momentum. I give myself a word count goal each day (usually between 400-600, depending). Some people say they'll write for a certain amount of time, but that doesn't work for me. Find what helps you stay on track and then do that EVERY DAY. Or, as I did, 6 days a week.

P.S. I always get my best ideas in the shower too!

C said...

high fives! awesome! see? they all say "just get something down on paper" and you think they are idiots until you get over and just do. isn't that an great feeling when your ideas start to form themselves into sentences?

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Aw, such nice words. Thanks, you guys! (And Julia! How are you?)

I now need to have a plan of attack for maintaining momentum.

RTAs said...

Yay Mary!
I have an idea for your plan of attack - take lots of long showers and get a waterproof notebook and pen. You will be the cleanest PhD candidate around!