Tuesday, April 22, 2008

my dissertation scares me like thinning hair and my nose getting bulbous with age

alrighty. so back to the problem at hand. you see, i have this dissertation thingy to write. and it's a lotta words. lemmie tell ya. what i have accomplished so far (while not entirely true) feels like what my blog post pic illustrates. a whole lotta nuttin'. i mean sure. it is kinda like writing the great american (canadian?) novel. it's big. it has to start somewhere. and it feels like it is never gonna end. i don't want this to be a bitch and moan session - oh pobre me - i have the entire summer to write a draft of a dissertation that like, four people total, will probably end up reading. i know, i know. woe is me. rather, i would like to either shame myself into it (a particular strategy that i excel at) or at least come up with a productive means of, you know, doing something, um, productive. as a side note, last time i visited the dentist, i asked the dental hygienist to shame me into flossing more (even though she didn't notice that i floss, um, sporadically - and i'll try to stop saying um now) and she thought that was 1) self destructive in some way and 2) kinky. i have since changed dentists. i mean, if you can't productively shame me into action, what good are you?

so i have this weird thing that i know i'll finish, and i know i'll finish in good time, but i need to fret about it. i need to be all like, "damn, i'm procrastinating, isn't that bad?" or "i have a new deadline, poor me, huh?" maybe it is the exorbitant attention i need, OR maybe it is part of my process. this is a conclusion i came to perhaps a couple of years ago (or like, yesterday) and i have tried to go with the flow of it instead of resist it. a fellow blogger, author and artist recently remarked in her facebook status that faith means more than effort (you know who you are). i guess this is the resounding idea behind my "process" idea. i fret. i worry. but i always have faith that what must get done will get done. and it does. faith instead of effort. i should get it tattooed. another one of my dear sweet friends, J., frets for fun i'm sure. and it makes her a functional adult and academic. perhaps fretting makes us feel important. functional. or dysfunctionally productive. or somethin'.

so back to shame. i actually think shame operates as a motivator for me. doesn't anyone else feel this way? i mean, you can be shamed by someone and their judgement can motivate or it can squash. which sounds better to you? perhaps it is highly dysfunctional, but i think the best kind of shame is personal shame. it is a motivator, a sidekick, a best friend. or maybe just mine. whatevs. my point is, that everyone's process is unique, possibly dysfunctional, and ultimately productive, right? we all get stuff done. i mean obviously, we should all be less judgmental, to others and ourselves, but don't we all live in a world that compels us to live up to the expectations of others in order to avoid their disappointment and our inevitable shame? perhaps it is just a matter of not taking responsibility of oneself. i mean, i have to assume that my supervisor cares about deadlines set, or dissertations written, otherwise why would i produce? i have to create a spiral of expectation and shame. otherwise nothing matters - right? i'm not a masochist okay? i'm just justifying why i am not doing stuff, why that is okay, and why it will all work out in the end. in an obviously tongue-in-cheek, non-creepy way. right? gulp.

as for productivity, here are some simple solutions to take my mind off actually doing work.

1) obviously, faith, not effort. perhaps my dissertation will be written on faith alone. does that mean i can take a vacation?

2) personal shame is the answer to all life's roadblocks.

3) watch oprah when experiencing writer's block.

4) assume my supervisor has more investment than i do in actually getting things done. that way, they will. come hell or highwater.

5) go outside and drink chai lattes (my new ingestive of choice) for inspiration.

6) instead of doing research, make phonecalls. long-distance ones to people you haven't spoken to in a long time in order to maximize the call length and time-wastage.

7) make lists on your blog that mean nothing. to anybody. including yourself.

8) enjoy facebook's new chat system.

9) consider ways to make my life more eco-friendly in acknowledgment of earth day. and/or get irritated by sandra bullock schlepping her soy-based candles after following #3 above.

10) consider other career opportunities that do not require a completed phd. suggestions?

any others to add? also, feel free to shame me now that i've fired my dental hygienist. and don't go easy on me as this could happen to you.


Beth said...

You know, you can just buy a dissertation off the Internet - satisfaction guaranteed! Wish I'd know that before I wrote mine, would have saved me sooo much time!

Also, I'm not procrastinating on marking exams by catching up on my blog reading. Why would you even think that?

Shells said...

I can totally relate to the shame factor! If they sold shame by the gallon, I'd be first in line (and done my dissertation before you!). But, sometimes I think that I waste more time shame-crastinating than I do working, so I say...forget searching for motivation. The best motivation is, after all, action! Don't ask how, don't ask why. Just do. ;)

roro said...

You know, I too am a great believer in the shame factor. But I find that, in my case, faith and shame combine and there I am, days or hours from the deadline, pumping out page after page of crap but consoling myself that it's okay if it sucks - I ran out of time!

Previous drafts of my most recent project have definitely suffered from this. But lately, I've decided to quit effing around and just do things and I have to say, I'm finding it delightful! So even on days that I'm not "feelin' it", I can still get things done and not feel ashamed at the end of the day.

That said, I totally saw Sandra Bullock on Oprah. What was with those candles?

jacks said...

i just want to say that i collectively love all three of you!

@dr. beth - send me any and all links that you are aware of. even if they are that crazy science stuff you do. maybe no one will notice if i start handing in stats on blended rats (ooooooh - that rhymes). hmmmm? and also, continue to procrastinate by reading my blog. marking is dumb anyway.

@shells - you know you are right. action is the best motivation. i will attempt to squash the shame and um, i don't know, do something. i guess. thank you for your ever-ready kick in the pants.

@roro - i adore your ability to motivate by tapping into my love of censoring swearwords, using the word delightful, and making it seem easy. you're lovely. many thanks.

marry said...

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