Summer. For many people a period in which work is set aside for a little while. For me, it’s THE period in which I need to get things done. Well, at least research wise.
Don’t get me wrong, I did take a week off at the end of June to reset my brain… But from june till august I’ll be spending most of my time behind a computer screen or books. Reading, writing, typing aka catching up with my research.
I work as a PhD candidate/ lecturer, which means I split these tasks in respectively 60%-40% of my ‘year’. During ‘teaching season’ (sept – june) there’s at least two terms (of two months each) in which I hardly get time to work on my dissertation. During the other four months, I have time to gather data, rewrite or read, but somehow I don’t succeed in taking enormous leaps. My ‘leap’-period is summer! The time when I see most of my co-workers wind down from teaching, take a 3/4 week leave and get back refreshed at the end of august to start another whirlwind of a year. Yes, I’m a bit jealous of this, but I take this all as part of the process of becoming a PhD. Plus, it’s really nice to have some quiet time to work on the dissertation and make these leaps and see this result in a so-called ‘progress report’ at the beginning of September. It’s often not until then that I realize how much I’ve actually done.
This year I skipped almost all conferences, because I wanted to focus on educating myself and making sure I could gather all data for the dissertation. After three courses, two seminars and two masterclasses I can say that this succeeded. I went to the UK in November 2013 to interview concert visitors of the Big Reunion concert (study 2); in December I started my first interviews with Dutch fans of the Backstreet Boys (study 3). In April/ May I finished these .. and now it’s July.. and I’m – again – editing the first case study of my dissertation, plus I’m transcribing the interviews with the BSB-fans. It’s the first time I feel like summer is not taking long enough & that if I had time enough to write, I would / could be done with draft versions in 6 months..
But that’s always the challenge: TIME. So, I’m wondering: How do you keep track of time? What is a normal average of writing per day you do? Do you continue working during the weekend? What is normal amount of time to take off? And most of all: How do keep yourself motivated on days when you don’t feel like spending TIME on your dissertation?
Share the experience?
I’m trying to overcome ‘not feeling it’ moments with just typing 300-500 words a day. Maybe I’ll throw them away the next day, maybe they’re completely useless, but somehow it does keep me in the flow. Plus, on days I’m really not willing to write it works as a countdown 😉 Yet, I would love to learn from fellow academics out there how you keep / create TIME (and the flow of writing), so it would be lovely if you left me a tweet or comment with how you try to tackle this challenge :)!
PS. no hard feelings, I love what I’m doing, but I would love to open up a dialogue that digs deeper than the standard ‘I write everyday, whether it’s a workday or weekend.. ‘ .. (that’s nice for you! But why/ how do you do this? Let us learn from your experience!)