Writing the Big D was a BIG step for Dr. Bessie and I. We needed to fill so many gaps in our research and build our writing competencies. The biggest gap for me was to understand how to do the research project.
It is critical to comprehend “how to do it”! Then you can worry about accomplishing the what and why which are crucial. I learned that trying to complete my dissertation by focusing on what or why is not the most sustaining process. Once you figure out how to accomplish it, then, the what and why start to fall in place.
A new way
Many doctorates take over four years to complete unless you get shifted around like Dr. Bessie and I did. Learning to write in a new way was the most crucial part of the doctoral process and one that was incredibly challenging.
First, you must forget everything that you have learned about English and writing ingrained in your brain since elementary school. Then you’re ready to learn a new way of writing.
The process of moving from how I was writing before my dissertation to how I should write was a little like finding Nemo. At first, I did not recognize that there was a whole ecosystem beneath the surface of my words.
I needed to understand this ecosystem so that my writing could reshape and change. This new way of writing was like being inside a matrix and learning to decipher new codes.
Being conscious of what and why I am writing has given me more control over how I write. I learned to read my words as an editor and a writer and asked myself questions about my choices: themes, terms, concepts, structure, and organization. All these processes helped me explain what I have written.
It also contributed to telling me why I made those choices – those things included and excluded in my writing that shaped the overall goals and objectives of my research. Once you have been inside the Matrix and learned how to write the correct codes, you will probably never go back to the way you once wrote.
A road map
Pieces of your dissertation do not start coming together until you start putting your first full proposal (three of five chapters of your dissertation) together. You will have parts of drafts of chapters to edit, and it was sometimes easy to get lost in the process.
Use your research journal as a road map. A journal gives you control and helps you focus. Most importantly, you won’t feel lost and overwhelmed by the writing process. Imagine jumping from the details to the bigger picture and trying to keep it all straight in your mind. Journaling can keep you focused.
It can also help you to keep the momentum going and finish within a good time frame. Breaking down the pieces can reduce some of the frustration and insanity that are all a part of the doctoral journey. When you finish, the rewards you reap will last way beyond the doctorate itself.
We all hold the key to change, we just have to unlock the right door. ~~~Dr. Patricia Mason~~~