Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yet another writing rant part II

contd. from part I- i just split this because it was so long...

If you're a chronic procrastinator like me, you then realize that this time you just can't procrastinate. There is no way out! It can get stifling, when you don't have the luxury to procrastinate, and that pressure makes it all the more harder to be productive, ending in a vicious cycle. At that point, it might do you good to find someone like this guy, with an exceptional capacity to nag, and give him your phone number, voluntarily. He will call you every hour, and bug you, and push you when you feel like quitting. He will ask silly questions like "so, where is the bottleneck?". He will ask you other idiotic questions like "so what page are you on?" and then ask that same idiotic question after two hours. You want to kill him, and you may end up hating him, but the thesis will get written.

Finally, I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments I actually enjoyed it. Researching about your favorite subject, putting things together and rediscovering that nice thread that connects it all is quite satisfying. It's a fine line between getting lost and distracted into papers you can keep reading about, endlessly, and staying focussed on your work and achieving the set target. But with a good amount of goading, both from within and from external forces, you can make it. The good bit was, that all my chapters went through just one round of corrections from my advisor, who had plenty good things to say about my writing. Clearly, I had made a lot of progress since the last time. Her affirmation meant a lot and pepped me on to whip things into shape.

The final hard part is then letting go, telling yourself that it's done and ready to be submitted. Since the thesis is your baby, you can't but want to make it that perfect piece of literature anyone has ever written. "Words on paper" was an article Abi had linked on his blog a long time back (there are a lot of gems there on his blog under Higher-Ed Advice) and I constantly visited that page in my last few days- to tear myself away from the obsession of perfecting what I had and just turn the damn thing in. It is true, the best dissertation is a done dissertation, but the fact is not easy to grasp while you're in the situation. There was a lot of drama before I finally turned my thesis in. The day before the thesis was due to my committee, I still had a good bit of work left on it, and was totally unready to call it finished. The sleepless nights, bad food, and stress all came together and I got terribly sick. When I was not throwing up or rehydrating myself, I was lying down and fixing errors in my tables and figures. I had almost decided to call it quits- but then told myself that I was really close, and if I didn't do it then, I would have to go through this hell all over again- and that I didn't want. So the next morning, as I sat at home making final corrections to each chapter and emailing them to my advisor, she and my lab-mate were making five copies of each chapter, setting them out on the table, taking color printouts of the figures and inserting them wherever necessary. I reached the lab that noon with five copies of my thesis organized in separate folders and ready to be handed in to each committee member.

That is how, ladies and gentlemen, TGFI wrote her thesis. 4 years of work, 150 pages, and a lot of outside help. I tried to clock the number of hours that went into it, but it's hard to tell- a lot of what I wrote was things I have been always thinking about, so it's not like I sat and spouted it all in one go. On the other hand, I needn't have gone through as much stress had I started earlier and been more organized. A lot of people actually enjoy the whole process of writing and it ends up being their favorite phase of grad school life. So I am sure it's possible to go through this without as much misery as I did, and I would strongly recommend starting early to anyone who wants to enjoy the process, quite confident that I never have to do this again and practice what I preach. ;)

22 comments:

Neihal said...

I now understand many of those posts u wrote earlier. The panic-stricken ones. ;-)

you know I liked this post. It is more like you are re-living the whole thing and his time we get to be a part of it. :)

U deserved it gal, you soooo deserved it. Hugs. :D




PS: you need to do something abt the link colour. I have to keep hovering my mouse to check for it. :D

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Neihal,
:-) thanks girl. Yes i think it will be nice for me too, to look back upon. I will try and fix the hyperlink color issue now. thanks for letting me know.

Sakshi said...

Sigh. My life right now in words.
Especially the "The sleepless nights, bad food, and stress all came together and I got terribly sick."
I read this and realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

sakshi,
Big Hug girl. and if there's anything I can do to help out, just gimme a shout out.

Basanti said...

Hmm.. like shop early to avoid the last day rush? :P

Point noted, me laard! :-)

Sangeetha said...

Ah...now I am already dreaming of the day when I'd submit my thesis!!

Yes, yes, I know it's possible to go thro' the thesis writing part with mimimum misery, but why didn't someone tell me this when I started the whole thing!?
Boo Hoo..:(

Sangeetha

Anonymous said...

Hi TGFI,

I've been reading your blog only quite recently...and being a grad student in life sciences who is only in the second year , I must say your posts offer an amazing insight into what I''ll be expecting in the coming years....the nitty gritty details that have to be taken care of so as to enjoy your Phd. Thanks n Congrats! :)

qsg said...

We want real posts.....!!!!!

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

basanti
haha! perfect analogy. :-)

sangeetha,
:-)
but why didn't someone tell me this when I started the whole thing!?

i agree. sue them. :-)

hi anony,
i'm glad someone benefits. that is part of the idea. thanks for leaving a comment and best of luck to you too- enjoy the ride. :-)

qsg,
every bit of this is real, i promise you. :-)

Shripriya said...

I felt stressed reading about it. Well, the good thing is that you are done!

And I see you are back in blog world too :)

fafridi said...

waaaaaaaaaa!!!! y wont it let me comment :((

fafridi said...

huh finally i can comment after the 5th attempt!
I have to have to submit this document today, that i've supposedly been working on since the last 'number' of weeks (i cant reveal the number there, i dont know counting till there :)
Right now, the big boss came in and i immediately minimized deep_thought to display the document that i started this morning. And here again, i am writing this huge comment here,, you see this cannot be procrastinated :P
I am so happy for you that you can look back at the whole thing and relax.
huh, my document still remains :|

Kaala Kavva said...

Damn! Your's is the most aesthetically appealing blog I've ever seen! How how how! Tell me, can I copy this template. Bdakh. Don't tell me, I'll copy it meself.

Rebellion said...

WOWWW Lajjo. It was really nice, heart warming to read the whole of it. Glad you stayed strong all thru it. I'm proud of you bacha >:D<

Beeeeeeeeeeg hug & bigger-biggestestest Congrats :D

Kaala Kavva said...

No it doesn't! Look again!
Ha!

Kaala Kavva said...

Muuuu Ha Ha Ha Ha!
It was not your template in the first place! Ha ha ha!
-----------------------------------------------
Blogger Template Style
Name: Parchment
Designer: Lorraine Barte

Updated by: http://www.blogcrowds.com/
Support: http://www.blogcrowds.com/
----------------------------------------------- */

Kaala Kavva said...

Whats more! I changed that title image myself and mine looks better now! You have such a simple sa Deep_Thought! Look at time, the effect and all! Ha hahahahahahahhahah!
Muuuuhahahhaha (evil laugh)

Kaala Kavva said...

Thank goodness I don't wanna do a PhD

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

shripriya,
yeah, not everyone has it as bad- i am a special case. :-)
yeah baby! i am back! :-)))))

fafridi,
LOL! submit kiya ki nahin, document? i am currently procrastinating grading papers. some things never change! :(

template chor,
1) it's cool and all, but it'd look nicer if the font size in your title was a notch smaller. just saying.

2) Thank goodness I don't wanna do a PhD
lol! it's not so bad! the ups outnumber the downs, i can tell you that. :-)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

AARTII BABE
forgot your comment- is kavve ne distract kar di.
i am so glad i had all of you egging me on- it meant a lot! (HUGS)

sd said...

Hey TGFI- Sahi hai madam. Aapka to pura *filmi* endin tha:)

Add tell me about bad food and no excercise - I have gained *10 pounds* in the last 2 months...I think my life span just got shortened by some years ...

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

sd,
haan yaar. like perspective says- what is life without some draama?

i have started cooking and eating healthy again, but i think i need to go on a detox diet of sorts- so much coffee and junk food in my system. wait till my mom starts about the weight gain. :(