How long can you focus on one thing??

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I have a hard time writing research papers. Not really for class - those are normally pretty easy, you can follow a formula and go for it. But, I started working on a research project about 1.5 years ago. I guess you could call it a few semesters of "pilot" testing, since now that I've been working with the data for quite a while, we have brainstormed some changes to the research design, and we're rolling it out for summer and fall and hoping to publish it.

At this point in the research process, I should be able to write the introduction and methods section of the paper. Heck, I should be able to write the whole dang thing about the 4 semesters of pilot work, including results/discussion. The whole shebang. I run hot and cold with this project. I love it and hate it. I hate running the not-really-an-experiment experiment. I hate writing about it. But anytime I'm forced by deadline to make a presentation or write about the study, I am always reenergized when I realize that people are actually interested in what I'm doing!

Once I FINALLY sat down last week and wrote up the changes I want to make to the research design, now I am ready to cash in on my excitement and start writing this puppy up! Enter: new deadline. Got an email about a deadline extension for graduate students to submit papers about their research for some kind of award at a conference. Decided not to do it because conference attendance (in New Orleans in 3 weeks) is mandatory. Was talked into doing it anyway and figured out a way to keep the trip fairly inexpensive. So, now I have a deadline (Tuesday) for writing this stuff up.

But for some reason, it is so hard for me to sit and write a paper like this! I wish it didn't take a real deadline to motivate me, because the quality would probably be better if I would just meet my own deadlines. So anyway, I am about to open this paper again and try to write UNDISTRACTED for one hour. The second I have any brief writer's block, I'll have to fight the urge to click on Facebook, Words with Friends, my phone, etc.

How do people like me ever finish dissertations? I guess they don't! I'll have to figure out how to be like someone else once the time comes for me. :-)

UPDATE: I did it! 1 hour undistracted. And I typed my butt off the whole time!


ColtonandJessica said...

Yay! Amber I am so proud of you. I am glad to have this semester away from school for that very reason. Wooohoo!

Tammy Benson-O'Brien said...

You'll have to join one of those dissertation support groups - I joke you not.

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