This past week, the Dissertation Diva helped two people to the finish line. (Congratulations to them!) October 1 -- this year, Monday October 2 -- marks an official deadline at some graduate schools for submission of the dissertation for a December PhD degree. Experiencing the final week of the process always strengthens my belief that regular, consistent, focused writing over a long period of time is what leads to a finished book-length project. Procrastination never pays. Eventually, the sand falls through the hourglass and the real due date is upon you. Dissertation writers who have written regularly, consistently, who fought procrastination tooth and claw on a daily basis, get to that last week with only minor edits to do. Proofreading. Pagination. Formatting. But no writing that needs to be done the week before the entire dissertation is due.
I wanted to impress upon those of you in the writing stage the importance of consistent, regular writing sessions (versus the 11th hour kind of writing). I know that writers come up with all sorts of excuses why NOW is not the best time to write. Perhaps you think you need to have more research done. Or you want more direction from your advisor. Or you're not inspired. The chair isn't comfortable. The weather is too gloomy. Too sunny. It's too loud. Too quiet. Too much data. Too little. Boring. Stalled. Tired. Overwhelmed. Overdue. All those reasons for not writing something today, right now, may be true. These reasons pull on you and convince you to wait for some future moment, when the weather is ideal, your ideas magically align in your brain into preformed complete paragraphs, and your advisor provides you with perfect, timely feedback. You are living in the future imaginary, instead of the real, difficult present.
To return you to the present, I want to share this quote by author Barbara Kingsolver:
"There is no perfect time to write. There is only now."
Succint inspiration. There is only now. As in today, right after you finish reading this post for inspiration. Write what you know about your topic, and what you don't know. Write about what you've read, and what you want to read. Write about how hard it is to write. Write your thoughts, questions, doubts, fears, and inklings about your topic. Seize the present. Write. Daily. Write. Now.