Writing the Dissertation

I’m often asked how it is that I’m able to write content so quickly. After all, I support several blogs, several newsletters, and I create products very regularly. So, while I like to write, I know that doesn’t mean everyone else likes to. So, I’d like to share with you what I call the three-pass process for writing the dissertation efficiently.

The three-pass process depends on a couple of assumptions. One is that you actually know you want to write about or you know what you need to say. The second assumption is that you are willing to draft and let it be imperfect, and the third is that you’re willing to go back and revise anything that you write or create, again at a later time. So, the way the three-pass process works is like this:

You select a topic or an idea that you want to develop further. If you’re writing the dissertation, you obviously would take a theme or an idea that you need to build on for your chapter. Then, your first pass is to write down everything that you can think of about that topic. So, it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect; it doesn’t mean that even that all your ideas logically follow. But hopefully they will, because if you taken the time to outline as I’ve previously recommended, you’ll at least have some sense of chronological order or logical order that you’re writing should go in.

In the first pass, you’ll write down everything you can think of that pertains to the topic or the question that you’re looking to answer. Then, after that, you go on to something else. So again, in the first pass, you just write everything that you can think of, then you go on to something else. Then, the next day perhaps, you come back for the second pass.
The second pass relates to reading over what you’ve written and seeing if there’s anything you can add to it. If there are any places where there are inconsistencies, you explore those or fix those up. If there are any places where you need more information, and your sentences are somehow incomplete or not fully formed, in the second pass is where you go ahead and revise those areas or fill in those areas. So that completes the second pass of this process for writing the dissertation.

Then, on the third pass, you would go back through and you read it again and then presume that the section was complete. I like to recommend that you only complete the first one and two passes in the initial stages of writing the dissertation. In fact, I recommend that you complete the first one and two passes as quickly as you can, and then aim to draft the whole project fast. Then, after you’ve completed the whole project, you go ahead back, and you read each of the sections together, or you read of the chapters together, and that’s the time where you do your third pass.

Now, of course, if you have to turn in three chapters for your proposal, you need to do the third pass on all three of those chapters, if possible. What that allows is first, it gives you a chance to draft quickly, which is a very good skill to develop. The second thing it does is that it allows you to think about the topic over the span of the day, or more, so that you might have additional insights or understanding that you can then convey in the paper. Then third, by saving the third pass until after the whole segment is written, it allows you to make sure that your transitions and pathways are clear from one chapter to the other. For example, if you read a chapter and you realize that you introduce a term in the second chapter that you never talked about in chapter one, by reading them one right after the other, you will begin to pick up on some of those inconsistencies and can address them.

So if you want to write more efficiently, give up the idea of writing perfectly the first time. Instead, commit to a three-pass process which would consist of drafting quickly, reviewing for additional content or information, and then finally, reviewing for sentence structure, syntax grammar, spelling, and coherence in that third pass. When you aim to write efficiently, you will finish the dissertation much more quickly. This is the same process for writing the dissertation that has been used by my most successful dissertation coaching clients.