Is it normal to feel like the dissertation is sucking the life out of you?

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I don’t want to be unfair. I realize that the dissertation gives me a great deal of pleasure, interest, and fulfillment that I would definitely miss if I didn’t have the hours that I do tucked over my laptop with the synonym finder on my left and cup of coffee on my right. But I’m starting to really resent the fact that I feel like every moment not filled with Juniper had better be filled with dissertating – or else!!

The result is that I don’t take time for myself. I don’t take time for other kinds of writing and creative work that I really do enjoy. I don’t recharge and I seem to get increasingly frazzled, irritable, and the cloud of free-floating anxiety above my head starts to darken and to sink down, down, down. . .

You know what I’m talking about. These huge projects that are always there, always begging you for more time, always taking a mile when you give an inch. Far more needy than any 6-month-old could ever be! When you’re finished, you fantasize, you can return to all the things that you’ve let slide over the last week, month, year(s!). And the dissertation becomes, not a helpful training exercise, but a big, fat roadblock and you just want to scream: Get out of the WAY!

When things are good, I find a way to keep my work in perspective, to make headway toward other life goals at the same time that I set aside time to write. Every morning I’m up, I’m at the desk, but I walk away and don’t feel bad. And yet somehow it seems that this dissertation won’t be satisfied until I’ve given up sleep, given up blogging, given up running, cooking, mothering to birth it into existence.

Pesky dissertation. How do you keep yours in check?

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