Cultivate Your Dissertation Flow

By Noelle Sterne

In your dissertation writing, you’ve probably experienced the all-too-common range of emotions from initial elation to paralyzing fear to plunging despair, and between many starts, stops, and freezes. Here I suggest how to at least cut down on those maddening swings and invite, coax, and, toward more consistent and actually enjoyable writing, entice . . . the Flow.

For Your Most Productive Writing Sessions, Nine Questions

By Noelle Sterne, PhD

When we’re in the middle of a writing project, scholarly or otherwise, it’s hard enough to start, much less continue. I’ve found that asking ourselves some important questions and acting on the answers helps us more easily sneak up on the current project and get started or continue, and even finish.

The questions and answers are completely between you and you, and you have the best and only answers. Whatever other advice you may have read or heard, or however loudly others swear theirs is the only way, it’s your own answers that matter.

Want to Write a Column? Admonitions and Advantages

By Noelle Sterne, PhD

At barbecues with friends or departmental parties with people you want to impress, you love tossing off, eyes modestly lowered, “Oh, I’m a regular columnist for Extreme Anachronisms.” But if you’ve been invited or want to start a column (or regular blog) and continue basking in such glory, realize what you’ve taken on.

A quality column takes consistent effort, thought, faithfulness, and rewriting. Experienced column writers know this. From my experience writing several columns and the advice of several column writers I interviewed, here are ten of the most challenging and important considerations.

When Your Inner Editor Roars

By Noelle Sterne, PhD

You’re writing along like butter, and suddenly a thunderous voice in your head rebukes: “THAT’S THE WORST, MOST HORRIBLE PHRASE SINCE . . . .” And you’re in a hammerlock of immobilization.

Such a message doesn’t have to lay you flat on the mat in a full writing block. Recognize that voice: it’s your ever-present inner editor—often old programming, parental censures, or frustrated-poet English teachers’ decrees. And it proclaims that you’ll never be a writer and you should go sell burner phones (if you don’t already).

Starting Your Dissertation? Rethink Your Lifestyle

By Noelle Sterne, PhD

You’re ready to begin your dissertation, and you deserve congratulations! But realize, though, that your current lifestyle must change.

No Structure

Doctoral students beginning this coveted stage are often shocked at the lack of external structure. No prescheduled class meetings, specific assignments, or grades to goad you on. No classmates to remind you to tackle the next assignment. You’ve got to make your own schedule and follow through.

If you work away from home, you’ve already got some structure. You can easily figure out your dissertation time: evenings, weekends, and an occasional call-in-sick day.