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08 October 2006



Great post ... and a very familiar frustration. The fact that I was doing anything but working on my professional writing projects didn't just make me feel like crap, it actually made me horny (as guilt so often does). So there was the reward.

The dissertation got done, as did the grant applications and a myriad of shorter reports and publications. The book manuscript did not. If I could have given myself advice then, I would have said: Don't believe you have to know every goddam thing about the subject to write about it. Research can be another form of procrastination.

Sounds like you've got it covered ... and I'm looking forward to hearing about your D-day soon!


So, it IS good news. I suspect people would be amazed if they realized how often they sabotage their own success, by doing the wrong thing or failing to do what they needed to do. They are left realizing later in their life that they have not acheived as much as they wished or planned.

GO you!


I suspect it will be difficult to remember the cool of daybreak when it is mid-day and the hot sun is bearing down on you and there is miles of white paper (so to speak)ahead of you waiting to be filled.

Find a space where you can go to recall the moment of clarity of daybreak... return there frequently to help you remember, until, like doing an exercise properly it is incorporated into your muscle memory.

Slow and steady will win this one. Brava CG!

I did my diss by committing to it like it was a job ...every day from this hour to that hour, Im working on my diss. I approached it with the discipline of going to a job on the days you just dont feel like it...you just get going a do it 5 days a week. It seems from your posts that you have a good work ethic, so apply it in the same way.

The time goes by anyway... platitude that it is, a little bit of work everyday adds up to alot over time.

Anne Elizabeth

Chelsea Girl,
Your post said it beutifully about therapy... And yet, it does all pay off eventually with an epiphany like you got !!!
Those are the moments that make all the work worthwhile -- and that begin to change your life as you have new awarenesses.

Congratulations !

Anne Elizabeth

Juno Henry

I know that therapy-engendered-epiphany feeling. Have had a couple myself, actually. Damn fine things.

Glad to hear that you're moving past the block. All power to you.

Juno x


I can hear your mental response when she said it: "Son of a BITCH!!!!!!!" (grin)


I really enjoy that therapy engendered epiphany because it happens so seldom, but when it does, its such a relief.

Then you integrated it, and go on to the next thing.

But that's what therapy is all about, IMHO, not the big breakthroughs, but the small ones, that eventually add up and help you to understand the problem, and move on.



ahhhhhh, you've captured that feeling of self-sabotaging paralysis so accurately. i've felt exactly that same feeling all this year and i congratulate you for finding your own way to get beyond it. mine was sheer panic -- we're adopting kids and there are a few sweet jobs on the market that i desperately want to apply for -- and it occurred to me, this is it. shit or get off the pot.

i think your epiphany was better. at the very least you didn't have to resort to a crude scatological analogy.

good luck to you! it's nice to know that i'm not the only one banging my head against the big D this fall. hang in there. like rosie said, we can do it.


I dithered back and forth about writing/not writing my dissertation for almost six years, so I sympathize. I eventually got it done by telling myself I just had to do three pages a day--and they didn't even have to be good pages. After a couple of weeks, I had a chapter.

Like the first commenter above, I discovered later on that research is perhaps the best form of procrastination. What could be wrong with reading more, learning more?

I very much enjoy your blog and would love to read your academic stuff, too.

Bonne ecriture!

chelsea girl

Wow, it's so great to hear that I'm not alone in this dissertation purgatory. There should be a support group.


chelsea girl


Wow, good luck on your dissertation. I know how you feel. I'm currently working on my masters, procrastinating wildly, and not looking forward to the dissertation I have to do in two years. Unlike you and some of the other people who have commented, I have to have mine done in a certain time period or I lose my funding. Yuck. But you sound like you've made some headway. Best of luck writing it, and I agree about the support group!

Miss Syl

The dawn metaphor is exceptionally good. Thanks for sharing that.

So, as a fellow textual-analysis freak (AND a "dawn" experiencer AND a lagger on completing her grad degree--but I did perservere and get the fucker done!), two sentences leapt out at me from the post when reading:

I had a wretched childhood filled a few pyrotechnically awful moments...


...not writing my diss keeps me suspended in this prolonged adolescence I’ve created for myself...an adolescence that shields me from adulthood that for a number reasons I perceive as a bleak state.

Remove the "and" between the two and substitute with "versus" and you've got a curious contradiction there.

It's interesting the circuitous traps we often set for ourselves (and trust me, I do this all the time). You are wanting to keep yourself in adolescence, because you worry adulthood will be bleak. And yet, your adolescence (part of childhood) was bleak. So keeping yourself in adolescence to avoid bleakness doesn't really work--you're still IN bleakness by staying still. It sort of sounds like you've convinced yourself that either option is by necessity going to be depressing, so why not go with "the bleak you know."

So the way I look at it is, "the bleak you know" (adolescence) IS a certainty. The adulthood projection of bleakness...that's just a guess. I say of the two options, leaping into the void and taking a chance that perhaps adulthood won't be the bleaker of the two after all might be the way to go.

In other words: Pound that dissertation OUT, SLAM your way through your defense, and leave a trail of flames in your wake as you break through the scrim of your new dawn and explode onto an incredible new stage of life.

Good luck!

Palolo lolo

Every person I've known who had to write or not write their diss
(including my anal father!) had the same internal discussion. And the 1 who didn't finish 30 years ago STILL regrets that decision. Hang
in there-it will get better.
Once again, aloha from Hawaii

The Old Doctor

Hey ya Chelsea,

Funny, I've just been reading this self-help book about procrastination called "The Now Habit" by Neal Fiore, and it lined up quite nicely with your epiphany about avoiding the diss. We procrastinate because it fills some psychological need we have, to postpone success, or reduce fear of failure, or... Anyway, lovely post. Best of luck with the big D.

Dr. Dissed

great post (as always) that nearly drowned me in floods of nostalgia.. ahhh.. and then wrapped me in the warming glow of epiphany... ahh.. those months and years spent abd-ing.. but not even beginning the final slog.. just playing around with pretend chapters.. and then suddenly.. the change.. the shift.. and the joyous rush to closure.. and heh babes... wait for the ceremony.. what a day!

And yes.. not that I have sold books.. and nor have I ever stripped (commercially), but the Dr-bit adds value.. no doubt..

and "dawn".. can one ever read that without thinking of Rosey and Dawn? ( "... rosey fingered dawn... "

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