The Writing Process

The following suggestions may help you start writing and settle in to the process:

1. Writers have their own processes. Discover how you can be your most productive. If you need an outline for each section, be sure to make one. If you work best with an informal structure in mind, embrace it. If you work best after drinking tea and listening to your favorite song, do so. Many writers comment that they have a system of rituals they observe before sitting down to write. It is useful to recognize your rituals as part of the process – and then sit down and write.

2. Try to write every day, or at minimum five days a week. The type of writing may vary depending on what stage of the dissertation phase you find yourself, but it is very important to do some work on your project every day, even if some days it’s only fifteen minutes. It keeps you in tune with your ideas and your sources. Taking even a week off can force you to spend costly hours regrouping and getting back into the frame of mind to work. A participant at a recent CGU Writing Center dissertation workshop commented that writing a dissertation is like training for a marathon. Once you start you must keep going or you’ll have to start over to get back to where you were.

3. Finding model theses or dissertations can help you gauge how much (or how little) you have to do. A good model can also serve as an inspiration for your project. Look at theses or dissertations that your department has accepted.

4. The tone and voice of your dissertation should be professional. You’ll want to lay your insecurities aside and assert yourself. Also, keep the writing academic; advisors look for dissertations that are interesting because of their scholarly findings not because of entertaining and amusing styles. Be professional in your criticism of other scholars. Instead of saying, “Professor X fails to understand the significance of gender in physical education,” consider, “While Professor X examines the impact of ethnicity on physical education students, my work analyzes the impact of gender.” Prof. X may genuinely have failed, but he or she may also be a contact you wish to cultivate in the future.

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