Monday, December 3, 2018

"A doctoral student and their advisor walk into a bar. The advisor orders a draft and they sit in awkward silence for eight months."
—S***T Academics Say, Facebook Page, Dec 3, 2018.

These days, one of the things I specialize in is coaching graduate students through the writing process. It's astounding how many folks get caught in blank page syndrome or writer's block for months at a time without seeking help. Or who find themselves overwhelmed by their advisor or committee's feedback, when really, the feedback was (should have been) really helpful, had they been but able to interpret it. And I love helping students maintain their motivation and momentum as thesis-writing angst inevitably sets in.

By the same token, it's sometimes heart-breaking when students seek my help when they've left it too late. I've had a couple of cases where students wanted my help two weeks before the deadline for submissions or the meeting with the Dean about what to do now that they've failed. If they had only approached me five months earlier, they'd be graduating instead.

Or even the successful students who approach me for simple copy editing (APA or Chicago or MLA formatting) two weeks before their submission deadline. It never seems to occur to them that all 400 of the graduating class(es) are going to be seeking copy editing those same two weeks—because no one wants their thesis rejected by Graduate Studies becouse of some simple formatting error—and it's only those who booked their editing weeks or even months in advance who are going to actually have editors available. I'm usually able to work one or two extra theses or dissertations in by working overtime and on weekends, but that means double or triple time charges, so not everyone can afford that. If only they thought to book help earlier.

Of course, people often think of editors like the guy at the copy centre: open to walk-ins 9-9, no appointment necessary, and your work back Wed, Today for a rush job. But editing isn't like that. You need an editor who understands your discipline and maybe a bit about your topic, so that means shopping around: generic copy shop is not the model here. And you need to book ahead because the good editors are already working on large projects weeks if not months in advance, and you may not always want the editor that's free to take on your thesis/dissertation/book today. It's like, if you forgot to book the wedding photographer, you can find one the day of, but um. . .that same day booking explains why some wedding photographers are still in business.

For a free booklet on successful thesis or dissertation writing, go to Writing Strategies for Theses or Dissertations