We recently had a great talk in our Dissertation Support Group about why we are working on our dissertation projects.
Here are some examples of uninspired reasons:
- I want to get a job.
- I want to graduate.
- The poems of X are under-appreciated.
The conversation really got going when we realized that we all were writing, in different ways, against snobbery that exists in our culture. Even though our dissertations have different subjects, we all make the point that it’s not just the university-educated folks that have something to contribute. To frame it more positively, you could say that we all want to invite people to look at poems/essays/historical sites that they may not otherwise have known about, that may enrich their understanding of art/nations/education.
I highly recommend having an exploratory conversation about what drives you to work on your project with other people in your field, or to journal about it on your own. You know you’ve found your real reasons when your heartbeat quickens and you pound your fist on the table.
Going to work every day, alone, is hard for all of us sometimes. Sitting at your desk to re-organize a chapter might seem ultimately pretty pointless some mornings, but keeping your real, emotional reasons for working on your project in mind (or better yet, on paper) might keep you in your chair for another day.
I did this recently for my master thesis. I took a piece of paper and wrote why I had chosen my theme rather than another, and tried to get to the core of the reason why I’m really doing it. It helped me a lot by boosting my motivation. It’s important to be conscious of what drives you to your work, beyond obvious, simplistic considerations.