Funny thing about accountability: or, what it means to write a dissertation

February 13, 2011 § 12 Comments

While writing a dissertation, a student will explore a plethora of emotions that run the gamut from excitement to ennui to hysteria to antipathy. She (speaking for myself here) will doubt herself, defend herself, trust herself, torture herself. This is all entirely normal and to be expected.

What she might not expect is what happens when she maintains accountability with another dissertation-writer. My dissertation-writing buddy, V, has been…amazing. She pushes me when I need pushing; she supports me when I need supporting. At the beginning of the year, just after New Year’s and before the semester began, V and I met at “our” coffee shop to discuss our graduation plans. Of course, our dissertation lies in the way of graduation, and we must conquer it. We have both made significant steps toward that very regal walk we will take on August 7th, and I for one am extremely proud of us.

What I’ve learned about accountability is just how truly powerful it is. Because V has never belittled me or yelled at me (and I don’t believe she ever would, since she knows I don’t work this way) for not achieving a goal or for having a difficult time getting started on a particular day, I trust her and value her opinion when she helps me to set my next week’s goals. On Friday, she and I chatted for quite a long time about what I am going to do with this 51-page literature review…which is an exceedingly long lit review. She gave me fabulous advice in regards with how to reorganize some of the chunkier bits and where I might start looking to make cuts. And then she said:

“I don’t think your goal this week should be to churn out ten pages. I mean, you can if you feel inspired…but I think you’ve got plenty of work to do here. I’d spend the week getting this chapter ready to send out to your director.”

And when she said that, I felt such a weight lift off my shoulders. V gave me a new goal, one that I’m ready to accomplish, and I get to sort of “take a break” from new writing.

Although…truth be told…I’ll probably finish editing this chapter and just write more, lol.

Thanks, V, for keeping me accountable and for helping me to meet these commitments.

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§ 12 Responses to Funny thing about accountability: or, what it means to write a dissertation

  • Proud of both of you! I know you will achieve this goal!! 🙂

  • I like the idea of a dissertation-writing buddy. I’ve been through other difficult projects and having a buddy was huge support.

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Oh, it really makes such a big difference, doesn’t it? I’m actually one of those people who doesn’t do well with the isolation of writing. Robert used to laugh at me when we were first together, because I would sit on the couch beside him and write my papers while sort of silently “talking” with my hands. He said it looked like I was conducting, lol. I guess we all have our systems, right?

  • Great goal for the week! Happy Valentine’s Day–I HEART your blog, Amanda!

  • Tori Nelson says:

    Haha! I second Kahty’s comment. I think you deserve a chill session, review all the work you’ve done so far (which is A LOT)!

  • petthedog says:

    Grazie, amica!!! I feel the same about you, writing buddy! If it weren’t for you keeping me accountable, I would probably not be writing anything.

    One day we will be able to meet at Toomers and say, “Well done friend. My clipboard is full.”

    Love you!
    V

  • Lisa says:

    Hang in there. It is a long journey full of ups and downs. Give yourself permission to not write 10 new pages once in a while. You have so many emotions yet to go through: the day you throw the entire thing down saying to yourself “This is crap!”; the day you burst into tears when your advisor says of your favorite chapter “needs more work”; the fear that you really don’t know what your are talking about; the day you stand up and defend your written baby which is hopefully the same day they say “Congratulations, Dr. Kramer, great job!”; followed by the day you receive the diploma and are robed as a doctor. Of course, for me, all of that was then followed by, “Now what do I do with my life?”

    Take it one step at a time, and you will get through it.

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Haha, I’m dreading those days, but I know they’ll come! In the meantime, I will take your advice and enjoy the little writing breaks that I can get. 🙂 Thanks so much for the advice and for reading!

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