For the past 2 months, I have been struggling with my dissertation.  I write it, love it, hate it, redo it, assume I need to read some more. Rinse. Repeat.  Usually writing comes easily to me, but this is not just any paper, this is huge.

Some things that are helping me get over the perfectionism:

Reference first.  Before going off on a fact finding tangent, stop and take down the reference.  It’s easier to do it now than to get called out by the Ph.D. Candidacy Advisor later right at the finish line.  I personally use Scrivener to keep my references organized, but others I know use End Note and the like.

Write every day. Ninety minutes should be the goal per day of solid writing time.  During this, I just write.  I am a perfectionist and all of a sudden much more so with this dissertation.  Let the sentences and words fall, rearrange and replace later.  This process gave me an introduction I’m pretty happy with.

Be the scholar.  This I think is the biggest thing for me.  A faculty member told me nothing can be in my own words in a dissertation.  The writing bootcamp instructor told me this is not completely true, and I have to consider this dissertation as my piece.  I am driving.  I am the scholar! (maybe.)

Save drafts.  Maybe you get excited about something and decide to go a different direction.  The next day, you come to your senses and think, “Omigod – whatdidIdo?!”  Save everything.  I don’t keep a daily save, but if I decide a paragraph has got to go, or even a sentence I love that just may not fit anymore, I slip it into another document called “Dissertation Dump” so it’s not lost forever if I have an impulse edit.

For those of you writing, or just watching me go though this experience, I hope this helps.