If writing a dissertation is like running a marathon, then revisions are definitely the hills. Revising is an intense period of staring at words and wondering why you chose them and how you might say them better, or if you should say them at all. If you have a good advisor like I do (meaning one that cares), this exercise also brings all your poor writing habits to light. You can’t push these issues to the shadows anymore. You have to address them head on, and you can’t get mad about it, because they are all on you. Revising is stressful and frustrating, but it’s a learning experience. I’m learning a lot about myself as a writer.
I talked to two friends about the revising process when I first started about five weeks ago. I felt overwhelmed with the prospect of trying to finish six chapters in about five weeks with Thanksgiving and a trip to West Virginia thrown into the mix. They both told me the same thing. It’s manageable, but you just need long blocks of time to concentrate. They were right. I had to log off Facebook, Twitter, and almost all the Internet, and basically be in my own world for a few weeks. Even when I went home for Thanksgiving and had to work in the dining room, I had to (politely) block out my relatives to finish what I needed to accomplish. It wasn’t fun, but it was necessary. I still had a nice time with my family and friends. I did give up the gym for most of the past two weeks, which my body paid for when I went back today.
My brain hurt after I sent my chapters to my committee. Friends asked if I felt relieved. I just replied with a hesitant, “I guess so.” I am beyond thrilled to have time again to do the things that fell to the wayside, like cleaning my house. But I see more hills in the distance and more revising in my future.