American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies Graduate Student Caucus

A Blog for Students of the Long Eighteenth

Writing Wednesday: Motivation

Hi GSCers!

Whilst dissertating, it can be difficult keeping the motivation going. Whether going on a holiday has thrown your schedule off or that trashy reality TV marathon has sucked you into its clutches, we’ve all gone through it. But if you’re not writing, you’re getting any closer to finishing it, which may put you off even more.

Damn right. Image courtesy of academiccoachtaylor.com.

So how do we fix it?

Whenever I get stuck, I take a different path in my research. Overwhelmed by satire theory? Switch to performance. Sick of Alexander Pope? Turn to his victims. Sometimes that’s enough to recharge my batteries in the research stage. Other methods include: changing my location (e.g. go to a cafe with nothing but some cash and your book. No phone, tablet, or laptop), rewards (e.g. play a game or instrument, or read a ‘fun’ book after reading xx amount of pages), coffee (I’m like Pavlov’s dog–coffee is a signal for me to work) and sitting outside in the sun (yes really).

In the writing stage, I set clear, tangible goals, put them on a month-view calendar. Here’s an example from April (because I had a lot more writing due then than I have the past few months):

My writing schedule for the month of April

Click on it for the huge version. I scheduled weekends off to spend time with my husband and set a goal of 1k words a day for the first couple weeks. I had around 4.2k before I started the month of April, so that first day I wrote 2k–which put me above my minimum limit. So I kept track of how many words I wrote in green if I was ahead of schedule. Even if I wrote less than 1k words, I was still ahead of schedule–which motivated me to keep going and even do small amounts of work on the weekend. You may notice I fell behind in my revisions (an emergency popped up) and that the revisions added 10 extra pages to my work. Since I fell behind, I wrote my actual pages in red.

This process was incredibly effective for me because if I felt awful about doing a bit less than 1k words, I saw I was still ahead. When I fell behind, I saw that I was still getting work done and getting closer to that end goal.

What methods do you use to stay motivated? What causes you to lose motivation in the first place?

3 comments on “Writing Wednesday: Motivation

  1. Sarah Schuetze
    August 15, 2012

    This is super awesome, Kelly. I think I may need to make a stop for markers on my way home.

    • kcentrelli
      August 15, 2012

      Sarah–I used coloured pens, highlighters, and dry erase markers for April, hahaha! Since I was so satisfied with the result of the calendar, I bought myself a proper set of markers for May. :-)

  2. Katrina Clifford
    August 20, 2012

    Kelly, this is fantastic and absolutely inspiring. I’m about to start on several weeks of revisions and was wondering how on earth to stay on track. I’m going to give your system a go! Thanks for sharing!

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This entry was posted on August 15, 2012 by in Writing Wednesday.

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