In this month’s post on GradHacker, I discuss Stephen King, Anne Lamott, and… Julia Child!?!
Writing is hard.
It can be isolating, messy, frustrating, mentally taxing, and a constant exercise in self-discipline. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either riding a great wave of creative productivity (which will eventually recede) or is trying to sell you something (like a new irreplaceable productivity tool). Occasionally though, when you are able to perfectly express yourself on the page and block out your negative inner voice, it can be transcendent.
Nevertheless, these moments of transcendence aren’t the only reasons why most of us in graduate school write. We have to write seminar papers, syllabi, abstracts, grant proposals, and, eventually, a giant dissertation—all utilitarian forms of expressing ourselves which can be creatively liberating or a terrible burden.
Five months ago, I decided that it was time to devote myself completely to finishing my dissertation. Although I still don’t have a complete chapter, I am inching closer to my goals day-by-day. But it is a constant struggle for me, someone who has difficulty writing everyday, who can’t help editing as she writes, and who would often rather clean the entirety of her apartment than write a paragraph.
During a particularly bad bout of procrastination when I decided that I could not write a single word until all of my books were reorganized, I discovered a stash of memoirs and how-to books that I had collected in my early twenties. Some of them were rather famous—Strunk and Whites’ The Elements of Style—and others were cute and esoteric.
Queen of self-delusion, I reasoned that reading books about writing was the same as actually writing, so I started to read. And I am thankful that I did! The overriding message of all of theses books is the same: writing is hard work, you are not alone, and you can write whatever you set your mind to. This message turned out to be the exactly what I needed to hear.
In the spirit of this holiday season, I wanted to share with you the three books that have had the largest impact on me and my dissertation in the hopes they might inspire you, too.
To read the rest, click on over to the original post!
[Photo from Flickr user Lidyanne Aquino and used under the Creative Commons License.]