The Five Stages of Every Dissertation Writing Day

Stage 1: The Optimism Stage (7:00-9:00AM)

I am so excited to be working on this project! I am going to write at least ten pages today! The ideas! The brilliance! The jobs I will be offered for this sentence alone!

Stage 2: The I’ll-Just-Look-at-the-Internet-for-Five-Minutes Stage (9:00AM-12:00PM)

What?!? Ben Affleck was cast as Batman? Miley Cyrus twerked on the VMAs? Chris Christie closed a bridge? The humanities are in crisis?

Stage 3: The Lunch and Netflix Stage (12:00-4:30PM)

Just a quick bite to eat and one episode of FRINGE — then it’s back to work. [Watches one episode.] Well, since this episode is a two-parter, I’ll watch just one more so I know what happens to Peter and Walter. [Watches half-a-season’s worth of episodes without once getting up from the couch.]

Stage 4: The Guilt-and-Self-Loathing Stage (4:30-5:30PM)

I’m a horrible PhD candidate! How did I even get through coursework? And exams? What is the point of all this anyway? My life would be easier if I quit the program and took a 9-to-5 desk job. But who am I kidding? I can’t even stick to a schedule that I made. I have no will. No drive. I am a horrible human being.

Stage 5: The Dinner and Re-dedication Stage (5:30-7:00PM)

As horrible as I am, I do need to eat. [Makes dinner.] Huh, this is actually some pretty good stuff. Not restaurant quality, sure, but surprisingly tasty considering that it come out of a box. Maybe I’m not such a terrible person after all — I mean, at least I can cook (sort of). Maybe I just need to take a shower, go to bed, and then get up and try again. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll try again tomorrow. And this time, I’l only take half as much time off from my writing. I mean it — this time I’ll only watch one episode of FRINGE. And then I’ll write twice as many pages! And they’ll be twice as good as the ones I wrote today! Oh, the ideas! The brilliance! The jobs I will be offered for the incomparable sentences I will surely write tomorrow!

(Rinse and repeat, for as many days as there are in a dissertation’s life cycle. Or, for as many semesters as there are in a candidate’s funding/support.)

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