Yesterday I attended a dissertation writing workshop run by Robert Lucas. The focus of the workshop was on getting writing done, not the format it should be in or what a dissertation is. His biggest recommendation was one that, if you've read any advice on the topic at all, you've heard before - write every day. (You can write six days a week, he said, for at least half an hour a day.) I guess I was finally ready to hear it because this morning I got up, went straight to my computer, set my iPhone for a half-hour timer, and went to work. This was incorporating another of his suggestions - set aside a specific area to do dissertation work. I've been sitting in my living room a lot, so my desk has now been reclaimed as dissertation space.
The dilemma I will face in a day or two is that at this point I'm not ready to write the dissertation every day. There is too much in the way of data collection, etc. between now and then. I could use the time for other dissertation tasks, such as taking notes, but his system is really one for becoming a productive academic writer overall, not just writing the dissertation. (Writing can include revising, brainstorming, drawing diagrams, what have you, but it's about output, not input.) Besides, writing is something I can do well first thing in the morning - surprisingly, given that I am not a morning person. So my plan is to move on to work on one of the articles that's "in progress" on my CV after this chunk is done.
One day hardly constitutes a victory over sloth, but I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't started today, the chance of there being a day two would be exponentially lower.