Friday, August 31, 2007


To ride or write? For me the answer is usually ride. Any given week i usually spend anywhere from 10 to 20 hours riding my bike. Occassionally i think, "man, if i spent as much time writing my diss as i did riding my bike, i'd have been done a long time ago." I feel a twinge of guilt, then i push my bike out the door and ride. This is no doubt the single most effective method for me to avoid writing. But it has its benefits. There are plenty of good reasons to ride a bike rather than write:

Writing makes me fat, riding helps me get skinny. When i write i have a bad tendency to wander the house while i'm thinking between sentences. More often than not this wandering takes me to the kitchen where i grab a handful of chips, cookies, cheese slices, whatever i have. When this process repeats itself multiple times a sitting, it doesn't take long to consume outrageous amounts of calories. One time in grad school i realized at the end of a day of writing that i had eaten a whole bag of ginger snaps. i couldn't eat ginger snaps for months. Sometimes when i'm planning ahead and know i'm going to be writing a lot i buy a bag of grapes or those little baby carrots so that i can munch on something healthy. Carrots or cookies, however, riding i'm burning calories, writing the calories i burn with minimal finger movements on a keyboard don't even begin to compensate for the calories i consume on my frequent wanderings to the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


After two years of finding more reasons not to write than to write i have quite a bit of experience procrastinating and finding excuses to avoid working on my dissertation. I want to share this wealth of information with others struggling to get their dissertations done, or more accurately, those looking for ways to avoid writing.

Writing a blog is actually a new tactic for me, but merits notice. Method one: start a blog. On that note, another very effective way of avoiding dissertation work is to read other people's blogs and follow all the hyperlinks that interest you. Without fail you will end up wasting a considerable amount of time learning useless stuff about people you will never meet. Method two: read other people's blogs.

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about when i was a kid and had to do the dinner dishes two nights a week. If i just did the dishes it usually only took 20-30 minutes, but i usually moped around the kitchen for a good 30-40 minutes picking up a dish here and a utensil there, reading the newspaper, or muttering under my breath about my cruel parents who made me do the dishes before i actually started really doing the dishes. As a result, the job usually took me closer to an hour. As i was sharing this experience my friend said, "oh, that's kind of like finishing your dissertation. If you just did it you could get it done in half the amount of time it's been taking you."

Oh, how the truth smarts.

It's actually often said (nice use of the passive voice) that the hardest thing about writing is getting your ass in the chair. This blog is for all those who have a hard time getting their asses in the chair, most specifically myself. You see, this blog is actually more of an attempt to hold myself responsible and get my dissertation done. Others who are cheering for me (or ready to fire me if i don't finish) can check in and see my progress. I promise regular updates about how things are coming along.

Another effective way to avoid diss work: check your email for the umpteenth time.