Thursday, September 3, 2009
Writing 5 Pages a Week
Recently, my dissertation chair advised that I make 5 pages a week my writing goal. It's a pretty feasible number, so when you sit down to do it, you don't feel overwhelmed. At the same time, each time I set out to do it, I always end up writing beyond the 5 pages. So it's been a successful guide, so far.
I shared this with the group a few weeks ago, and now several others decided to give this a try as well.
Depending on what type of dissertation you are writing and what stage you are in, the "5 pages a week" goal can be modified to fit whatever you need. Tanya, for example, is reading many, many pages of testimony for her dissertation, so she suggested she might make a goal of how many witnesses a week to finish, or how many pages of testimony to read a week.
Another goal might be a time frame, for example, "I will write for 2 hours every day."
Try it out - pick a number of hours, or a number of pages, or even a number of paragraphs if you're really struggling.
How do you keep writing a certain amount consistently?
You say to yourself, "Every day, let's pretend like I know what I'm doing!" Jumping around to different parts of your dissertation is fine - there's no rule that says you have to write sequentially, and just about no one does.
You might start with an introduction, just to get your mind started. John started off with a fascinating quote to get himself motivated. You can always cut and paste it and put it elsewhere.
You might also try outlining to get started - outline section by section the whole dissertation, or just the particular chapter you want to work on.
John said that he recently met with his chair, who said, "No more outlines! Put it in writing!" So he wrote 5 pages at once, then used the rest of the week to tweak them.
Soomi also worked on a schedule, but used data sets as her measurement instead of pages.
So if you're at a stuck place and need to make some fake deadlines for yourself, try 5 pages a week and see what happens!