This semester has been an interesting transition back into teaching and writing simultaneously. I am finally getting into some good habits, with teaching work happening on MWF (with SOME writing in there), and diss work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But it is hard. Today is one of my two devoted writing days each week, and at 9:19 I haven’t done anything substantial yet. Hence, it’s time to make myself publicly accountable to my goals.

At this point, I have drafted chapters 1 and 2 of a 3 chapter case-study oriented dissertation. Chapter 3 is drafted, but it is not quite a complete draft. I haven’t yet figured out how to make it work as a case study. Because I have other upcoming deadlines to meet, I’m putting chapter 3 on the back burner for the rest of the month. My immediate goals are:

  • October 1: Polished manuscript for journal submission. This is a hard deadline, since I’m trying to get into a special issue.
  • October 2: Polished versions of Chapters 1 & 2(allowing me to thoroughly enjoy a visit from my best friend the weekend of October 3-5).

After next week, my goals will shift. In order to defend in early Spring, I need to meet these deadlines:

  • Monday, October 20: Complete draft of Chapter 3 to my advisor (using ‘fall break’ at UNC as an opportunity to have a really generous working weekend right before this deadline).
  • November 21: Drafts of Introduction and Conclusion.  Each of these will likely be on the short side (maybe 20 pages for the intro and 10 pages for the conclusion).
  • December 19: Full (edited) draft of complete document. Assuming the insanity of end-of-semester grading, which will come early this year, since my grades will be due to UNC by Dec. 9, I am not expecting to get much writing done between Nov. 21 and Dec. 9. That time will be a conscious break from the diss, so that I can come back to it full time from Dec. 10-Dec. 18. I would like to have a complete draft done by the time I head home for the holidays, since spring semester teaching will begin on Jan. 7.
  • February 2: Full dissertation submitted to my committee.
  • March 2-6: Dissertation Defense.

I think I can make these deadlines, but it will require working weekends whenever possible. Basically, I feel totally confident that I can do this so long as I don’t indulge any feelings of self-pity or self-doubt. This need not be perfect, nor should it be ready to publish as a book. My goal is to write a coherent dissertation that raises some interesting questions, nothing more, nothing less. I keep reminding myself that as a senior in college I wrote a 100 page honors thesis over the course of one semester, and it was not terrible. If I could do that then, with no real training in research or writing, I can certainly do this now, after all those graduate courses.