I have finally have realized my life-long dream of earning a Ph.D. after I successfully defended my dissertation in history at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Lately, I have been reflective of my experiences. I thought I would share my own dissertation journey and chronicle the top 10 steps that I took in order to successfully go from the stage of writing and defending my proposal in September of 2012, to completing the writing and defending my dissertation within two academic years.
1. Shift from thinking about a dissertation to writing a dissertation. Initially, you may go through a phase of fearing your dissertation. Like me, you may start your journey by buying several "self help" books, like by Wendy Belcher. I bought and read these books, in addition to reading various articles and blogs online when I stated my dissertation process. However, I soon realized that I had to get to the point of simply just writing the dissertation rather than thinking about how I would write my dissertation.
2. Write every weekday. One of the best tips that most graduate students will receive about how to write a dissertation is simply to write every day. However, what does this mean? Most graduate students have generally tended to follow the purge strategy to write graduate course final research papers close to the deadline instead of planning ahead. This creates a vicious cyle of producing poorly written papers that are generally not as polished as they should be. By the time you get to the dissertation stage, you have to think through the mechanics of your writing, and figure out your own writing kinks. Better yet, ask your faculty members and graduate student colleagues for suggestions. Take the weekends off to rejuvenate and enjoy yourself.