Grad School Advice

Road to Revision; or, Good Writing Habits are Hard to Develop

I’m like every other grad student. I wait. And I wait. And I wait. Until I can’t wait anymore. As a deadline looms, I kill myself to churn out crap and slap it on the page. I also hope that crap somehow illustrates my ideas well enough that professors see I have some ability to write.

But now I’m heading into the comps process and this strategy will no longer work. What I’ve been working with my adviser to develop is a writing schedule, so that I won’t be tempted to slap crap on the page last minute and try to pass it off as anything academic. In other words, I need to grow up as a writer.

My weaknesses: procrastination, doing anything but writing, general laziness, and fear of failure. To overcome these, I’ve admitted my problems. Now, I have to conquer them. I’m setting smaller deadlines and no longer waiting until the last minute. I’m actually revising for the first time in a long time. Not editing, actually revising. Revision is freeing. I no longer fear failing, because I know I can always go back and fix the issues. I’m enjoying revisiting past work to improve upon it. The laziness thing is difficult; however, I’m setting mini-goals and giving myself prizes when I meet those goals. I get to watch TV for an hour for every two hours of writing or of reading. This has worked for me thus far. And it is amazing how much work I’ve gotten done in this move.

Every day I remind myself: I. CAN. Do. This.


I am also using Wendy Belcher’s book. Thus far, the book has been well worth it. For the first time, I feel like I have a plan, and I feel like I have the ability to accomplish these looming big writing tasks.

I will update my status using this book as I get further into the process. I’m only on week 2.

Here’s to moving forward and into another stage of my grad student career.

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