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How to run your own boot camp


  • Recruit a few other dissertation writers.
  • Commit to meeting at a regular place and time. Create a virtual meeting room if you can’t meet in the same physical space.
  • Tell your colleagues that you’re absolutely unavailable during that time.
  • Enlist others, if possible, to care for children and pets.
  • Get a supply of healthy snacks and drinks to keep in reach.

During the boot camp

  • Set SMART goals for the week (see the goal setting tips below). Interact with this goal sheet every day, crossing off the goals you’ve achieved, breaking down a goal into sub-goals, and adding new goals as you progress. If you’re meeting virtually, apps like Padlet allow you to post your goals in a common space.
  • Set a timers for your writing periods if it’s helpful (see below for timer options). The Writing Center boot camp schedule is: 90 minutes with no internet, 30 minutes with internet, 60 minutes with no internet, then talking about your writing over lunch. If you’re meeting virtually, you’ll need the internet, but close your apps, turn off notifications, and limit any other use of the internet to the specified time.
  • Turn off your phone, stop talking, and start writing. If you’re meeting virtually, mute your microphone and your speaker, but keep your video on. Seeing others at work helps with motivation and accountability.
  • Make an occasional appointment in the Writing Center to talk about your progress, to learn new writing strategies, and to keep yourself motivated.
  • Smile. You’re doing a great job!

Workshop handouts specifically for dissertation writers:

All Writing Center handouts and tips, writing strategy demos, and semester calendars:

Writing group resources

Materials to help you start and run your own ongoing writing group:


Productivity applications:

Speech to text software:

Time tracking applications (to see what you’re spending your time on):

Timers/bells you can set:

Interesting articles and tips

Formatting your dissertation

Inside Higher Ed series for graduate students

National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity

Discussion of using the internet to procrastinate:

A very helpful list of tips (intended for online/distance students, but mostly useful for anyone):

Some stuff about “imposter phenomenon”: