In the Writers' Lab today, I'm hosting Dr. William Deyamport III, who shares with us his experiences of writing a dissertation. Here's how Will introduces himself:
I am a district instructional technologist, connected educator, and digital learning consultant. I work with teachers in discovering how they can use a multitude of technologies, such as Google Apps, Compass Learning, ActivInspire, etc., to create an array of interactive and collaborative classroom learning experiences, with a focus on digital learning and connecting students to a global community.
I have an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University. In addition, I am a frequent conference presenter, blogger, and have guest lectured, via Google Hangouts and Skype, on the uses of Twitter for developing a personal learning network.
Once I decided to pursue a doctorate, I knew that I was going to choose an Ed.D. Aside from the focus on solving real-world problems, I was drawn to the culminating project that many Ed.D. programs have. That said, I wasn’t thrilled when I discovered that Capella University’s Doctor of Education program required a dissertation and not a field project.
In this post, I am going to share what I learned about my writing process, and offer a few tips to others who may be in the midst of writing their dissertation.
Find Your Writing Cozy
I wrote at a desk in the livingroom that I had had for years. It wasn’t sexy, nor was my space set up to mimic a spa or a zen-like retreat. I didn’t care about any of that. But you have to understand that I am the kind of dude who, until recently, used to wash his hair and his face with a bar of Dial soap.
Writing at a desk in the livingroom worked for me. I had access to the TV, and I was close to the kitchen if I needed a snack.
What you want is to find your spot where you can be your most productive. That may be at a Starbucks or at the beach, your bedroom, or at the library. Wherever you feel most comfortable and relaxed, and where you can concentrate on writing is your cozy.
The most important thing about writing your dissertation is writing your dissertation.
Clock in: You gotta Make Time
My number one rule in writing a dissertation is to treat it like a job. That means clocking in everyday and putting in the time. I would write seven to eight hours a day. The only times I wouldn’t write, with the exception of the times I took a break from writing (bad mistake), was when I was waiting for feedback from my advisor. Otherwise, I wrote like I was earning a living.
You can’t treat your dissertation like it’s a hobby or something you will get to when you have time. You have to make the time. Set aside two hours a day. Don’t give yourself any excuses not to write. Even if it’s only five pages, you have to make a habit of writing something everyday.
Think of this way, if you never get it on the page, you will never walk across the stage!
Keep a Notepad Handy
I am all about going digital. I earned my graduate degrees online. Most of the movies I watch are streamed online. I have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. That said, I always have paper on my desk to joint down thoughts, ideas, or to outline something.
Use handwritten notes, or notes via Evernote or Google Keep on your smartphone or Tablet, to organize your train of thought.
Strike When the Iron is Hot
Duh!... Write when the mood hits you. If inspiration, hits you at 3am, if you can, get up and start writing. There were plenty of days in which I would wake up, and my dissertation would be gnawing at me. I just couldn’t sleep. So I got up and wrote until I put in my eight hours for the day.
Don’t waste the spark. When something in you pulls you to write, then you have to write. You simply can’t allow that energy and creativity to go away. Seize it and take the opportunity to write as much as you can.
I know that I am talking about inspiration. Please don’t use not being inspired as an excuse to not write. Put in the time to write daily. Remember to set aside a predetermined amount of time to write.
Don’t worry about editing while you are writing. You have plenty of time to edit. Focus on writing. What you don’t want is to get stuck over “the perfect sentence” or “the perfect explanation”. Once you have completed a section or a chapter, you can always go back and make any necessary edits. And as everyone who has ever written a dissertation can attest to, you will have plenty of edits to make based upon your Chair’s feedback.
I had an interesting time writing my dissertation. For me, I wrote so many hours and made so many edits that I really needed my dissertation out of my life! In the end, I am very pleased with what I accomplished. Good journey on your writing.