A rebel nerd just RSVPd for the NaNoWriMo party: How I plan to write my dissertation in a month

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“Just write it.”

Mr. T’s words echoed in my memory as I sat staring at the form my dissertation committee had just signed. The pink sheet of paper with four stamps of approval? It said “You can write your dissertation now.”

That’s the gist of it anyway. Technically, I had passed my “data meeting” wherein I defended the quality, quantity and potential theoretical contributions of my dissertation data. My four committee members listened, questioned, critiqued, suggested, and then said “Okay.”


Now it’s time to follow Mr. T’s advice (from before I even started gathering data): Just write it. Stop thinking about it. Stop talking about it. Stop procrastinating. Just write it.

Easier said than done, of course.

I spent a week stewing, pondering, piecing data, and of course, procrastinating.

And then I stumbled upon a post from one of my new favorite food blogs, Daily Dish Recipes. One of the authors there described gearing up for “NaNoWriMo” and her plan to write 50,000 words in a month.


NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month and it involves a few hundred thousand people around the world using the month of November to bang out an original novel. 50,000 words in 30 days, give or take 1,600 words a day.

Hmm. Sounds startling similar to my task.

So I looked into it and realized that I can participate, just as a Rebel (truly, they have a category for it). See, they define “novel” as a lengthy work of fiction. My dissertation? Well, not so much. But as they repeat over and over, NaNoWriMo is a “self-challenge.” The point is to get the words on the proverbial paper.

And so I shall.

Despite a cross-country academic conference, Turkey Day(s), and Christmas Decorating Day (Black Friday to you), I will be churning out at least 50,000 words next month, following the spirit of NaNoWriMo as best I can. Luckily, I still have four days left to compile my research (read: all of the interviews/fieldnotes I’ve gathered and analyzed over the last couple years) and outline my “story” (aka my dissertation chapters). Then it’s go time.

Thus, I apologize if I’m a little scarce over the next few weeks. Or if my posts lean towards dissertation writing whining. It will be over soon, I promise.


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