Hey, Dissertation Writers

Do you find that it's far easier to write than it is to revise? I've been working furiously all day on chapter 5 (the final chapter! I have a conclusion planned, but it's more like an afterword), having switched gears because revising chapter 4 was taking too long, slowing me down. I'm making excellent progress on chapter 5, though, and I'm reasonably confident that I'll have a draft of it ready for my advisor and my writing group to read on the 25th. From here on out, I'm going to go with Collin's advice: You write chapters, but you revise them into a dissertation.

Along those same lines, I submit my mental and emotional state as expressed by Jerri Blank's face (more under the fold):

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I find writing much less demanding than revising--especially the kind you are talking about that puts the whole project together. I do (probably too much) self-editing and revising as I go along. Hence, I've been stuck on Chapter Five all week because I keep going back and fixing things before I just write the conclusion!! Sigh--but I will finish before the weekend!

Hate revising

Geeky Mom

Revising is hard. (Think "math is hard.") There's a certain amount I can do easily, like fixing cumbersome sentences and whatnot. It's harder to revise in ways that tie a project together.


I actually didn't mind the revising. For me it was the same as the writing, only a different focus, like looking at a sculpture from five paces to the left after looking at it straight-on for a long time. The suggestions given were concrete and in my case almost always included the plea for forecasting. My MFA thesis was, of course, a book of poems, so the organizational structure of a project this large was new to me and took constant reminding, at least for the first few chapters. Anyway, I liked the revising fine. It was soothing--like knitting.

Actually, I much prefer

Actually, I much prefer revising to writing - I find it MUCH easier. That's partly because I start writing very early in the process - I can't work stuff out in my head, but have to work it out on paper - and so the initial stuff is always completely messy, leaving me to revise a LOT. But I take great satisfaction in seeing connections between points, reorganizing, smoothing, and polishing. It's the initial getting-stuff-down-on-paper that's hard!

(Of course, revising to someone's specifications isn't always so much fun, depending on who they are and what kinds of comments they give. But I've always had to do a ton of revisions before I ever give something to someone else to look at, so most of my revising has been on my own initiative, not to satisfy someone else.)


I'm far, far, far from writing any sort of dissertation, and I very, very rarely edit anything I write. I'm more of the edit-as-you-go type, which really fouled me up on my senior thesis, as it made it take just shy of forever to get anything written.

I never really bought into the whole draft-revise way of writing that we were taught in middle school, but I'm starting to see the light. In applying to the U of M's Humphrey Institute for next year, I had to cut my statement of purpose from its original 750 words to the required 'approximate' 500 word limit. I though it would be incredibly difficult to cut it down at all, but I managed to get it down to 565, which I felt was approximate enough.

So as it is, writing is a pain, and it's a horribly slow, laborious process for me. But when I do edit, it goes very quickly and it feels good, in a strange way. I especially like editing other people's work, 'cause I didn't invest anywork in producing the original material!

Another vote for revising

As a hardness contest, writing / revising is like granite vs marble. But I too find revising more satisfying & rewarding - it feels like real palpable progress.

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