by Joan Bolker, Ed.D.
Writing a dissertation can seem like a daunting task, but Dr. Joan Bolker has guided hundreds of doctoral students through the process. In Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, Bolker draws on her experience as a clinical psychologist specializing in assisting blocked writers to provide thoughtful insight and actionable advice in ten short chapters. Bolker recognizes there are many factors beyond simply writing that go into a dissertation, and she covers such topics as developing your own work process, troubles with your advisor, and dealing with interruptions. Bolker makes it clear that Writing Your Dissertation is not meant to be a self-help or therapy book. Instead, her hope is “that this book will help you substitute the carrot for the stick.”
In Chapter 1, appropriately titled “Beginning,” Bolker starts with seemingly simple advice—write your way into your dissertation, even if it is only for fifteen minutes each day. She encourages you to commit to writing at every stage, starting with simple journal entries to spur further contemplation. Subsequent chapters touch on goal setting, completing your first draft, breaking through the midway point, revision strategies, hitting the wall, and life after your dissertation. Writing Your Dissertation is much more than a guide to writing. It prepares you for unforeseen circumstances that can arise during the process, it offers advice and suggestions for maintaining your mental well-being, and most importantly, it offers you the encouragement and concrete advice you need to survive writing your dissertation.