How did I get myself so psyched out?

I’m sitting here staring at the 65-page outline that needs to become my prospectus and it’s just sitting here staring back at me. Yes, I totally know that I have to just start writing. I swear to god I feel like the earth will crack open if I do.

I know exactly what my dissertation topic is. I know (mostly) how I’m going to go about conducting the research. I know it’s a solid topic, I can answer the “so what” question, I’m familiar with all the literature relating to it, I know it’s original and interesting, and I know that my advisor is completely supportive of my (odd and kind of fringy) topic.

And I cannot write the goddamn prospectus.

Here are some other things I can’t seem to do lately (meaning, pretty much for the past five months):

  • Ask the other two people I need for my committee to be on my committee. Both have indicated they’ll do it if I just ask them. I’ve had this on my to-do list for months.
  • Set up an actual interview time for the couple of nice local people who’ve offered to talk to me.
  • Set up and conduct email interviews (email, for chrissakes!) with the farther-away people who might be helpful.
  • Visit a close friend who, coincidentally, could be very valuable for my project–if I go visit her, I’ll get to do interviews, participant observation, make lots of new contacts…and I can’t get it together to buy a ticket.
  • Call my sister-in-law—that’s right, my RELATIVE–who will be incredibly helpful in getting started on the interviewing and observation parts of this research–she would, in fact, be a perfect informant, were she not (as I mentioned) my relative. She’s been offering for months to talk to me about things that will help immensely. Have I called her? Um, no.
  • Oh, and don’t forget that I can’t seem to WRITE THE GODDAMN PROSPECTUS.

Seriously. What is my deal? I really don’t think that I’m trying to sabotage myself. I love my field. I like my dissertation topic, and I think it’ll be interesting to research and write. I really, really want to get the hell out of grad school, get a job, move somewhere else with GB and start living like an “adult” (ha!). My advisor likes me, likes my work, and is unbearably well connected….

Well, the advisor is part of the problem–I have an enormous fear of disappointing him. Yes, this is silly. I’m in my mid-30s, for fuck’s sake. I’m smart. I rock. I have a rock-and-roll basement, even. But I know this is one reason I’m so freakin’ scared to do anything.

But that’s not enough to explain my absolute abject terror at the prospect of writing a complete sentence.

I am in, as they say, Bad Shape.

And when the hell will my new laptop get here?!?