I registered as a PhD candidate in September 2000. Since then I have written maybe 100 pages of text for courses related to my PhD studies, but less than 10 pages for the the actual disseratation. That's 1 page/year. Beat that!
When I started I was very eager reading and taking courses, but a divorce and building a house and a new relationship took it's toll, even if I had some time off from my job for my studies. I however managed to collect some interesting material using video interviews in a forest setting, and a few years later I had got it transcribed and had done a preliminary analysis. Since then I've been stuck.
BTW, my research is about practical decision making by forestry engineers in what could be called "New Forestry", which emphasizes not only on sustained yield, but also sustainability. I want to describe what the knowledge they use consists of and where it comes from. And I want to use this together with some theory from other sources to formulate some ideas (I hesitate to call them theories) about practical knowledge production and how it could be further improved.
So, I have interesting reseach questions, I have taken most of my courses, I have empirical material and I have read hundreds of articles and books related to my research. All you have to do then is to sit down and write, a few of my academic friends have told me. Right. Growing to somewhat of a computer nerd in my later days I of course needed to get my electronic environment right before I could write. It took me a few years to work out what would suite my style of information handling best (yes, I continued reading during that time, but nor writing). This is called procrastination by another name.
Earlier this year I got everything in place: a new iMac with the wonderful Scrivener program which together with DevonThink is an unbeatable couple for writing and handling all kinds of information in very versatile ways. And then Zotero of course. Could I write? No. I was very close to quitting the whole project, it was more and more an embarrassment for me to be a PhD candidate who never gets his PhD. And that option is still there. But I have postponed it, maybe indefinitely because after all it seems that I CAN write. At least a little.
So what has happened? The lonely rider (that's me) who wants do do everything by himself (build houses, learn web server handling, write his PhD etc.) has accepted that he needs a little help of a kind that the university hasn't been able to provide. That help consists of a web based course with a live coach and a group of peers who all struggle with their theses. I enrolled in the 4 week course offered by Academic Ladder ten days ago for 55 € and that seems to be unusually well invested money.
I have been writing at least something during 9 days out of 10 (the idea is to write every day, more or less, in short sessions). I get comments from my coach Kathryn every day and some from my peers too, not on WHAT I write but on THAT I write, together with ideas about how to position myself in relation to my writing. And, suprisingly, it works! If it works even after 4 weeks I might consider another 4 or even 16 weeks.