Public Commitments

I just watched Julie & Julia, which I loved–and it reminded me of the light-hearted and funny book by Julie Powell.  I decided to try something from the blog/book/movie and make a public commitment. It’s not quite as dramatic as cooking through the recipes of Julia Child’s cookbook, but still. As Marcee pointed out in her comments to my freewriting post, sometimes a public audience makes all the difference.

I’ve accomplished a lot this summer–wrote a new and dramatically improved introduction, traveled over 5,000 miles by car and visited over 50 loved ones, started a new business with my husband, helped my parents find a house to rent in Austin for the winter–and I like the variety of those accomplishments. But now I’m craving normalcy and dissertation progress.

So here’s my commitment: to write 21 days in the next month (by Friday, September 11) and to exercise 21 days in the next month. Why 21 days? Well, as Joan Bolker points out “writing every day” can mean different things to different people. My “every day” excludes weekends and national holidays (in this case, Labor Day).

Joan Bolker advises a pages-per-day method (you’re done when you’ve written a certain number of pages) but in my revising phase I’m having trouble knowing what can happen in one day. I’m re-writing parts of Chapter 1 from scratch, which sometimes involves stopping writing to research. Other parts of the chapter need mainly stylistic revisions. So I’m going with the butt-in-the-chair method: 2 hours per day to work on revisions specifically (in other words, no e-mailing dissertation support group or advisors, no meetings, no background reading, no blog posts).

As for exercise, I’m committing to 20 minutes per day. And yes, the exercise part of the plan is completely related to making progress on my dissertation. The health of body and mind is something I’m convinced that anyone concerned about productivity should be paying attention to.

Don’t worry–every post this month is not going to be related to this commitment. But I will  monitor my progress in my posts this month like this:

Writing–0 days     Exercise–0 days

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6 responses to “Public Commitments

  1. I love this idea! I saw the movie and thought the same thing. You have thought of something that is both practical and radical – Good Luck.

  2. becomingdoctorjones

    Thanks Beth! Let me know if you want to write a guest post now that you are a doctor!

  3. Whoo! I love the shout out–it did make all the difference! In fact, I submitted the whole thing today, uploaded to TDL at 2:00 am and turned in the paperwork at noon…Whoo!! This blog really did support me through the worst of it (getting out that awful first draft), so THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  4. I just finished writing my dissertation this summer. (What a great feeling!) I committed to myself to exercise at least 5 days a week through the process. It made a HUGE difference! Especially in the final push when I was literally doing nothing else but dissertation. My mind felt much more invigorated when I let my body work hard for a change.

  5. becomingdoctorjones

    There is tons of scientific evidence to support this idea, but somehow it’s much more reassuring to have anecdotal evidence from a colleague that it works!

  6. becomingdoctorjones

    You’re so sweet to me! I really appreciate it, & Congrats!

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