Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Boot Camp: Week 1

For the next six weeks I will be engaged in a dissertation boot camp. I do not usually discuss my dissertation because to be quite frank I am ashamed that I still working on it these 10 years after doing my fieldwork. Yet I struggle along getting something done most years. This time I am not saying to myself that I will finish my paper in the next six weeks. I usually have very high and unrealistic goals so that I essentially set myself up for failure every time. Yes I have knocked my poor head on this wall many, many, times and have not learned my lesson. However, I think I might be in a different frame of mind this time.

One of my fellow boot campers said it best today when she stated, "I don't know anything about myself as a writer." Amen, sister! Neither do I. I have identified myself as a graduate student and yes I have written papers, loads of papers, but I have never called myself a writer. My intentions during this boot camp are to be compassionate towards myself and to explore and observe what and how it is to be a writer and to develop a writing habit. Apparently this professor, Robert Boice, does research on faculty productivity. He found that procrastinator and binge writers (hello! that's me) make tenure less often than productive writers. Well, I was never sure I would make a successful academic and apparently my bad habits are not in my favor.

Another thing I realized today is that I am a lousy project manager. To be fair to myself it never occurred to me to think of my dissertation in this way, as a project, in need of management. Duh. I am usually just focussed on my need to, or lack of, writing and that it would all come to together if I wrote something. I am always losing track of where I am and what I am doing. This also falls under being a procrastinator and unorganized. Although in class one person confessed to having her electronic files in a hot mess. She can't remember where she files her work. I do have a file system. Yay! I have also realized that parts of my dissertation are not in the first draft stage any more. Things are actually coming together and I am farther along then I give myself credit for. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

So I am giving up the critic/editor/procrastinator for a period of 6 weeks to explore new ways of writing and managing my time. This is a different headspace for me. A more open one. A curious place with room for thoughtful observation. I want to be open and willing and available to do the work. To show up and engage in the process and see what path it goes down. To explore being a writer. I will keep you posted on my new wilderness.


sappmama said...

Through my now misty eyes, I am re-reading this post and want to tell you I am very proud of you!

I KNOW you will finish your dissertation, and your journey is not shameful, but an example of how to push through to the finish, even when it's long and painful to do so.

Ellen Bloom said...

Good for you! I think you're a great project manager! You manage to plan and execute fantastic parties, dinners and events! You are always planning and working thru health regimes, sewing projects and other craft projects. Maybe if you think of this dissertation as a PARTY, it will get finished! I know you can do it, Ms. Cruise Director!

woolanthropy said...

Aww thanks girls. I know I can always count on you to lift me up. I am going to try and think about my paper as a party. That's a very new perspective! Thank you for your encouraging words. Love you!

WineGrrl said...

Don't worry, you will do just fine!

Anonymous said...

What others see in us is often not what we see in ourselves. You have always had the gift of being a beautiful writer - since 4th grade!! I'm real excited about you thinking yourself a writer and your journey in your new headspace. The procrastination and organized disorganization you got from me - sorry. You, my daughter, are fearless and I believe you can do anything you set your mind on. Enjoy this journey....... Love you.

Bitterbetty said...

You can do it... today is your day.

I am about 27 stitches from finishing a 25 year multi generational WIP needlepoint. Just becasue someting takes a long time to get done doesn't mean it can't come together and be done... In a very satisfactory way to boot.