Sunday, 10 January 2016

Post 67: Keeping up Momentum: Perseverance and the Long Haul

At the end of November I found myself in chilly Cochrane, Alberta—there for a work trip with my sister and our long-time family friend Renee. During the trip I made use of a couple of things: the very cold weather to motivate my evening walks to become evening runs (it was so chilly that after 2 kms of a steady jog I was finally warm!), so I think that I ran my chilliest runs at -9C, I think, and -3C respectively. Brr! I'm trying to keep that in mind as I motivate myself to stay on top of healthy habits and getting some movement into the day. With the shorter daylight and cooler temperatures, I've certainly done a lot more walking than keeping up on my running goals.

The spire of one of the many churches in or near downtown Victoria.
That trip I had also made a date with my friend and colleague Cat, who recently defended her thesis in September! (Yay!) And it was such a lovely visit! She is in a really really great place now. She's recuperated from the thesis experience, and stated that she took about a month where she just felt like the immense effort it took to finish writing and defending the thesis meant she really only felt like doing the basics for a while: eating, sleeping, walking, yoga, and taking it easy. I remember how hard she worked during the summer months, and I was amazed at how quickly she as able to write and get her thesis together, and she did a really get job in the end, but I'm not surprised that she took the well-earned and needed break after such intense and sustained output.

Which is what gets me to the gist of this post: thesis projects are longer and more intense than (likely) anything that most students have worked on to date. They do NOT require the same skills that perhaps got students through undergrad: you cannot write a thesis with binge-writing habits that may have helped to complete papers in undergrad. I won't say that this is what I have been doing, because it isn't, but my process has certainly evolved into trying to build good writing habits that keep me sustained over a longer haul, because it is a long haul to write a thesis or dissertation.

January frost out in View Royal. Gorgeous!
As my supervisor recommended for me several months ago: write for a few hours, right in the morning, every day if possible. It's amazing how much can get done with consistency. I would also say that writing every day keeps up the momentum, engagement with the thesis, and just a general sense of encouragement for seeing continued progress being made. I'm trying to keep that in mind as I juggle a chronic health issue (migraines), and two part-time jobs.

Onwards and upwards! Cheers to healthy writing habits with stretches and standing up every so often, and making time for exercise despite working too much. Happy writing to everyone else working on theses and dissertations!

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