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.