As a professional writing coach, I want to get you organized and motivated, so you can achieve your goals. That’s all it takes. Some motivation, implicit and explicit, and organization.
Why does it seem so simple? Because those are the two things that I’ve found to be the most inhibitory for any doctoral candidate or individual writing about their expertise.
Book-length works and doctoral theses are long and often cumbersome projects that take years to complete. This is enough to dishearten even the most ardent of people who want to contribute to their field of expertise in a significant way.
So, You’re Stuck. Now What?
You have a goal in mind. Your expectations are aligned. Why is it so difficult to write it all down? This is a common problem and here are some situations that you may already be familiar with:
- The Blank Page – It has power. It has potential. Yet, it can make you go bonkers! Staring at a blank page only adds to your anxiety. To get beyond the blank page, I always suggest an outline. If you don’t have an outline, then make one. It’s how we’ve been taught since we learned how to write.
Writing prompts are also a great way to get beyond the blank-page blues. Choose one of your keywords or several of them. Type them in and think about what they mean.
- Home Life – It would be great if all of us had an office to retreat to, like a study, where we could hide away from all the interruptions that daily life brings. When family and friends interrupt all too often, it’s time to move your base of operations or set boundaries.
This is really hard, especially with young children. Boundaries can be soft—gentle—but firm. The writing needs your attention.
- Career – Our professional life has demands that always need to be met. Our homes depend upon it. So, finding work-life balance takes a more nuanced approach.
Some employers are receptive. If you’re self-employed, then you’ll need to set a schedule. Whichever way you can create balance, it doesn’t matter, just find a way to make it work.
- The Topic – I’ve often found that experts in their field, but early into their writing about it, have a difficult time focusing on their topic. They understand everything, and they should, yet the project is limited in scope.
This is a major problem for doctoral candidates who have spent years developing their expertise. If you design a thesis that’s too broad in scope and complexity, you will need to exert as much energy needed to complete it. This is major problem for candidates working full-time jobs and young families.
- Areas of Expertise – Your area of expertise is not writing, unless you’ve spent years writing dissertations or book-length projects. The coursework and long-format papers that you’ve written don’t compare with 200+ pages of research-based information. Look for a writing coach to help you get organized for this process.
These obstacles can delay your progress, as well as increase your anxiety and, even worse, self-doubt.
How to Eliminate Self-Doubt
To get beyond the blank page or home-life obstacles, you need to develop a plan. Your plan will be your guide throughout the entire process. This is where you should decide to reach out for help, whether it be at work, or through a writing coach, or both.
Examine the process before getting started. Knowing what needs to be done and when are major determining factors for scheduling and writing focus. Your plan will eliminate self-doubt, because you can see it all in front of you—how it’s possible—and how you’re going to complete it.
The first thing you need to do is organize your environments. Get that writing desk or new laptop. Put up signs to let others know that you can’t be disturbed, unless it’s an emergency. Environment is everything for a writer.
You’ll need a coach if any of the obstacles listed above are affecting your progress. The coach doesn’t write for you, but they do answer the questions and offer ways to get beyond the things that might be hindering you.
Long-format writing projects that consist of hundreds of pages require the ability of the writer to focus their daily activity. Any deviation—going down rabbit holes—tangential research, all of them will lead to time wasted. Of course, you’ve learned something, and that’s good. But, you could have spent that time on your project, then did your research later. I suggest keeping a notebook, so you can go back to those brief notes and investigate any developments or new data in your field of interest.
Book-length writing requires a steady amount of focus over a long period of time. A writing coach will be more involved with content editing and the progression of the chapters.
It’s a process and I’m more than aware of the complexities. I’ve written a few myself. And, I’ve helped hundreds of people with their thesis and other long-format projects. I know I can help you, so send me a quick “Hello!” (click the link)to get started.
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