Finish something every day

Since I hope to put the final touches to my PhD thesis this summer, I was happy to find that Mary McKinney’s Monday Motivator this week focuses on the subject of finishing. The academic coach advises to take projects one step at a time:

You’ll find that finishing a task creates a burst of energy. When you accomplish your achievable daily goal, you’ll feel a mild surge of satisfaction and an increase in motivation.

Take a look at Mary’s Wednesday Wisdom on daily discipline as well, if you need more inspiration to get writing.

Taking things one step at a time in a different sense, Brett D. Hirsch over at Sound and Fury considers the pros and cons of submitting a PhD thesis as a series of (peer-reviewed) papers. This method of working towards a PhD is more common in the sciences, but Brett sees considerable advantages for the humanities as well. He is curious to know what you think…

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6 thoughts on “Finish something every day

  1. I’m convinced that three people read my blog, and I’m one of them ; )
    Hope you’re well and the final touches are coming along smoothly!

  2. For me even beginning is a problem. Am I simply going to jot down summaries of texts, loose thoughts, flashes of what I think are insights? That seems to me to have the inherent danger of serving up not even half-baked ideas. On the other hand, there is no time to mull over disparate thoughts and only write them up when you’re convinced you’ve got it completely right.
    Also I’m not sure how to tell dawdling from the mild sense of paralysis due to having read too many books and articles and blogs and e-mails too superficially.

  3. Ah, I am going to have to refer you to Joan Bolker’s wonderful book, and her concept of Freewriting. Here’s a post I did on her book earlier. She would urge you leave behind those anxieties of writing down half-baked ideas, and just start writing what you think. Type up those thoughts, and think as you write. Before you know it, you are working on a chapter!

    Also, New Kid on the Hallway has a stimulating post on how to take notes from your reading.

  4. Many thanks Kristine — I’ll have a look in the library, or even better I’ll start writing freely/freewriting rightaway! I suppose I might try painting with the broad brush first and get the details straight later on. (Not ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I cannot put.)

    Analogously with this, I read in two ways, either globally, with a view to getting the gist of what I’m reading – a good idea if you want to know “where someone’s coming from” – or with a pen in my hand. I find that the latter is very time consuming and not seldom a fairly tiresome affair but it often is the only way to make a difficult text yield its traces of gold. It is important to read an article, a chapter or even a book globally first since you won’t be able to make out the wood for the trees otherwise. I guess,then, that the two ways are really two stages of reading.

  5. New Kid’s recommendations make sense. A thought on using quotations in teaching: since making good use of a quotation presupposes real understanding of the text I’ve found it’s often an excellent idea to present undergraduates with a quotation and ask them to comment. ” “In the state of nature life nasty, brutish and short” (Hobbes) Discuss”.

    And yes quotes CAN trigger one’s own thoughts. I like the idea of a Commonplace book in which you note any line that strikes you as in some way remarkable. It has its relaxing side to, see Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks.

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