Do you ever find yourself waiting for The Dissertation Muse? You know, the one that (supposedly) shows up, just in time to inspire you to write the absolute best chapter of your life?

Yeahh. Me too.

Unfortunately, though, the Muse (when she visits) only seems to stay for a few minutes, and I can’t ever seem to count on her showing up just in the nick of time. So this brings me to my question: do you need to be inspired to write? And my answer: sometimes. You need to be inspired to write when you are making connections between thoughts, or working on the unique contribution elements of your dissertation. These are the places where you need to be at least somewhat inspired to think creatively and to capture your creative ideas.

For the rest of the dissertation, the answer is absolutely not. You don’t need to be inspired to write most of the dissertation. Why is this? Because, for the most part, the dissertation relies on creating a well-recognized structural framework. You don’t need to be inspired to write this framework.

Some parts of the dissertation focus on rote repetition of facts, phrases, or citations. You don’t need to be inspired to write these, either. Your footnotes don’t require inspiration, nor does your bibliography. In fact, if I had to guess, the dissertation would be 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. So if you’ve been waiting around to write, you may want to reconsider.

Focus on what needs to be written, and what can be written, without requiring the Muse. Complete those parts first.

Then, paradoxically, you may find yourself in just right place to be absolutely inspired.