The summer of my dissertation proposal

Summer sessions at Temple University begin this week, and once I get all the usual red tape sorted out, I’ll be officially registered for Pre-Dissertation Research, but in fact I’ve been working on my dissertation proposal ever since I passed the prelims three weeks ago.

My goal is to finish the proposal this summer. My advisor believes that I can do it.

I’m setting myself a quota of 3 pages per day, minimum, 6-7 days per week. (I’ll allow myself a weekly sabbath from the work, should I feel the need.) That doesn’t mean three pages of polished perfection, of course — some days it’ll be mostly notes on the articles I’m reading, other days it may be several pages of angst and confusion. That doesn’t matter; what matters is that I show up daily.

A few things I’ve been realizing — I think I already knew them, but they’re sinking in more deeply for me now:

1. I have structured my clinical work to be as uncomplicated — undemanding, even — as possible, so that it doesn’t drain my energy too badly. That’s fine. I don’t need clinical challenges, not right now. My dissertation is challenge enough.

2. My dissertation is a creative project. This means that I can approach my work on it as an artist, if that helps me. In working on my dissertation, I am not deferring my creative pursuits; this is a creative pursuit, for goodness’ sake!

3. Whatever dreams I may have for growing my private practice/small business can wait for a year or so while I take care of my dissertation. Right now, working on my dissertation is what I’m doing to grow and evolve as an independent professional.

4. My family doesn’t have to take a back seat to the dissertation (see items 1, 2, and 3). I can have two priorities: my dissertation and my family. That will work.

So, in summary: I’m keeping my clinical work simple, my artistic pursuits playful, my self-employment low-key, and my family life central — and I am working on my dissertation.

There. That doesn’t sound so melodramatic, now does it?

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