Dissertation Days (8): How Do You Turn This Thing Off?

I have this nasty habit. Whenever I feel like something remains undone in my work for the day–a finer theoretical point left un-nuanced, a part of my basic thesis still resisting absolute clarity, a paragraph left ashambles–I can’t stop thinking about it, even after I finish my writing goals for the day.

That’s the case tonight. I made some headway today, both in new material and in revision of what’s already there. Still, my introductory paragraphs, where I set out my essential argument and discuss how I’m going to demonstrate it, don’t quite come together yet. They’re closer than they have been, but there’s still some refining that needs done if they’re going to hold up (and hold the rest of the chapter together).

It stresses me out, I’ll admit, that I still haven’t gotten them where I want them to be. I muse and mull over the essentials until I feel like one more moment of thinking and the whole thing will fall apart (which it does, at least in my mind). Still, I console myself with the knowledge that this whole process is basically like distilling, until you get the perfect product that you want, the finest and purest articulation of your argument. It’s the getting there that’s the hard part.

Still, I am making progress, there is forward movement, it’s just sometimes difficult to see that when you’re in the midst of the process to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking of progress. I managed to write 500 words of Chapter 4 today, and I think this will actually be a draft that I can submit sometime toward the end of this summer. My goal is to have basically all chapters drafted by the beginning of the fall semester. It’s really the only way that I feel like I am realistically going to be able to defend in the Spring.

Tomorrow, I am going to continue revising, with minimal composition. In fact, I don’t think I’m going to set a specific word goal. I’m getting to that point in the draft where there is a lot of material, and I need to make some tough choices about what I need to keep. So, that’s the goal for tomorrow. At the end of the day, five pages, FIVE, should be in something close to submittable shape.

Let’s do this.

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