According to my calendar, today marks the beginning of the Get-Down-To-Work phase of my life. If I’m actually going to start making any sort of progress (and apply for the fellowship for next year), I have to actually, you know, get something done. So I sat down this morning (much later than I planned, but sitting down to work nonetheless) and opened up the files of the first two chapters of the diss, the two that I think I can write (drafts, at least) before my fieldwork is done. I looked them over, made some changes in the chapter outlines, and added notes from a few secondary sources in appropriate places.

And then I had no freaking idea what to do next.

I’ve written hundreds of papers in my life. I wrote a Master’s thesis. I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to go in this dissertation. And I am completely stumped as to how to actually go about this.

I have dozens and dozens (and dozens and dozens) of books and articles I think I need to read before I can actually write something coherent. I read dissertation and time-management and organizational advice books obsessively, and I know (I think) that I should keep skimming secondary sources *and* write/freewrite at the same time, and attempt to balance that with all the fieldwork prep and analysis and the fellowship proposals. But I’m seriously not getting how to actually accomplish any of that.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of things I don’t know, and petrified–as in inert and turned to stone–by the prospect of figuring out my very next step.

What do you do when you realize you have literally no idea how to do what you do?

Update: I gave up temporarily and went to the gym instead. Still trying to figure out how to not look like a total dork there, but I did 30 minutes of cardio and briefly tried to figure out the weight machines, then did a little grocery shopping to stock up on WW-friendly lunches and snacks. So I’ve accomplished something today. Guess I’ll try some reading and see how things go….And here’s to working on smaller units!

Uh, right, *in* smaller units. Sorry.