The No-Fail Secret to Writing a Dissertation

As a former journalist, assistant professor, and seasoned dissertation-writing-workshop coach at New York University, I can promise you there is only one fail-safe method, one secret, one guaranteed trick that you need in order to finish your dissertation: Write.

That’s it. Seriously. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are no magical shortcuts to the production of prose, academic or otherwise. If you want to complete your dissertation in a reasonable amount of time—and trust me, you do—you must learn to prioritize the act of writing itself and write every day. Writing must become a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.

Here’s the basic, scalable program that I recommend: Sit your butt down in a chair, preferably in a quiet and distraction-free room. Disable your internet and turn your phone on silent. Come into your writing space having already done the research you need for that day’s writing task. You will not be researching or looking anything up during your writing time (research and editing are discrete tasks, believe it or not, and should be done in separate blocks). <Read more.>

Via Theresa MacPhail, Vitae and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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5 thoughts on “The No-Fail Secret to Writing a Dissertation

  1. Yes, I’m in the CSUF Ed.D. program, comprhensive exams 9/15 and estimated completion 12/16! 🙂

  2. EXCELLENT! I didn’t realize the CSUs had doctoral programs. I have found it is difficult to be in higher education without that terminal degree whether it is a professional doctorate or the PhD.

  3. Yes, and they do the classes at CSUB, with some occasional travel to Fresno – so it’s pretty convenient too!

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