Dissertation writing is hard. Kind of.

I’ve been writing my methods section first, because it’s a little more straightforward and I figured that would be easy.

And for the most part, it is.  Writing about what we’ve already done in the project, and describing the measures I am planning to use and sketching the analyses I am planning to do was easy.  But there’s a part in my methods where I have to describe my dissertation approach and sort of the theory behind the methods I’m using.

Let me be clear: I love methods!  I do.  When job ads say they want someone to teach methods and stats I’m like “Sign me up!”

But theoretical stuff is hard.  Seriously.  It takes more time to write than you think.  When you’re constantly checking references and rifling through papers (or in my case, PDFs on my computer screen in my Zotero library…by the way, I love Zotero) it can take a long time to bang out a page (which, I have figured out, is about 250-300 words in Times New Roman 12-point font with 1″ margins all around).  And it’s not just that…you need to think.  You need time to sit and think and say, “What am I going to say next?”

So I learned a few things from my writing session yesterday.

1. Give yourself that time.  Take a minute or two from writing and stare at the sky and formulate your thought.  Sometimes, writing is more about thinking and theorizing than actual writing – the dissertation writing process seems, at least at this point, to be as much about thinking and analyzing and synthesizing than actually banging away at the keyboard.

2. Sometimes, you need to dump your thoughts on the page.  You can always edit and rearrange later – I learned that when writing papers.  But I learned yesterday that you can always cite later, too.  If you can’t remember the citation off the top of your head…go find it later!  Write while you have the bug!

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