Summertime Dissertation Writing: How to Stay On Task When the Sunshine Beckons
April 1, 2015
Summer! The sun is out, the beach is beautiful, and it’s time to relax, right? Well, for those who have dissertations to write, summer is perhaps less a chance to kick back, and more of a chance to get some serious work done in the absence of the regularly scheduled demands of the academic year. It’s easy to start the summer with optimistic dissertation goals: “I shall write two chapters!” Or maybe “I shall finish my dissertation proposal!” But it’s also easy to blow off that dissertation in favor of the beach, which might leave you with regrets come fall. So how can you balance dissertation writing and dissertation editing with some summer relaxation?
Setting Goals and Scheduling Them: A Major Dissertation Help
Set some concrete goals for your summer of writing. Maybe you write drafts of one or two new dissertation chapters. Maybe you want to finish editing and revising your entire dissertation. Maybe you want to complete your archival research or fieldwork. Once you’ve decided on what your big goals for the summer are, break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces, and schedule them. For instance, you might set aside two weeks for doing the reading necessary for a literature review, and two weeks writing that literature review. Break down the tasks you need to do to accomplish your big goals and schedule them in a calendar: that way, instead of having the entire summer stretching out before you, you’ll have structure and deadlines. A dissertation consultant can help you with the process of setting goals and deadlines.
Gradhacker offers a great tip for the start of the summer: start clean and fresh. This means putting away all of the books and notes you’ve used over the course of the academic year, clearing off your desk, and cleaning your workspace. Having a clean, new work environment might help you focus and make writing more appealing.
Make a Summer Syllabus
From another Gradhacker article, another great idea: make yourself a summer syllabus. This is an especially useful plan for those who are in the early stages of dissertation writing and are trying to formulate a topic, or for those who have to draft a literature review. Gradhacker’s Laura McGrath suggests:
“Don’t just make a reading list; make a syllabus. That is, divide your reading the way that you would assign it in a class. Group like texts, pair primary and secondary sources strategically, arrange texts to be in dialog with one another, and consider big themes as they relate to your research objectives. And most importantly: schedule. Plan specific dates, detailing when you’ll read what. This will help you stay on track, and keep you from being overwhelmed by the huge stack of books you’ve just checked out of the library.”
Check in with your Dissertation Advisor or Colleagues
Dissertation advisors sometimes disappear in the summer months. But if yours is amenable, ask them to schedule regular check in times. You can do this over email. Set a date when your advisor will plan to send you a quick email asking you what you’ve accomplished so far. Being held accountable can help you stay on task. If your advisor can’t help, a dissertation consultant or dissertation editor can step in and fill this role. Or, consider asking some fellow grad students, dissertation writers, or colleagues to give you regular accountability reminders – that way, you could help motivate each other. You might consider starting a summer writing group!
Take a Break
If you can, DO schedule some time off over the summer. Taking some time away from your dissertation can help you return to it with fresh perspectives and new ideas. Anna Dinescu advises using the summer to spend time with family or take a trip. She recommends scheduling this downtime – by buying tickets or making reservations – so that you do follow through and spend time away from work.
Acknowledge Your Summer Accomplishments
At the end of the summer, make a list of everything you’ve done: every book you’ve read, every section of your dissertation that you’ve written, every day that you spent on dissertation editing or dissertation formatting, every research task you’ve accomplished, etc. Even if you haven’t accomplished every goal you outlined, chances are you’ll have done more than your realize. Going into the academic year with a sense of accomplishment can be a great source of motivation and can help you crack down again on your dissertation work.
The summer can be a great time to start working with a dissertation editor or a dissertation consultant from Dissertation Editor. A dissertation consultant can help you establish and accomplish your summer dissertation goals. A dissertation editor can help you focus you make your summer plans to revise and edit all the more fruitful and productive. If you’re planning to file your dissertation in the fall semester, a dissertation editor can work with you over the summer to make sure that all of your dissertation formatting is perfect come fall. We’ve got the dissertation services that will help you have a productive summer!