You know that feeling of starting a new project, having no idea how much time it’s going to take, but still needing to set some deadlines? Starting a dissertation fits that description precisely.
I started with a schedule based on an estimate 3-4 weeks of work per chapter, I left the summer entirely open (my committee members aren’t obligated to return graded chapters in their normal turn-around time since it’s summer break for them), and I aimed to finish by Jan. 15, 2014. That’s all well and good, but…
It turns out, I didn’t finish chapter 1 in 3-4 weeks. I’m in my 5th week and not positive that I’ll finish this Friday. I’m not discouraged, however. A friend of mine who just finished his first draft last month told me that his first chapter took eight months to write. It’s not unusual for the first chapter to be more time-consuming. I’m certainly hoping that subsequent chapters move more quickly once more of the introductory research work is done.
I’m flexible to make adjustments as I go. I’m not just adjusting due dates on a calendar; I’m also learning and adapting my work habits and schedule. I realize the importance of my dedicated study environment. I know now to request as many library loan books as soon as possible so I don’t get slowed down waiting for them. I can let writing time overflow into evenings and weekends if I need to. I can make up for lost time by writing this summer (I might not get immediate feedback but I can certainly have chapters ready when the school year begins).