I audited a wonderful course on doing a dissertation with Prof. Nick Smith in the department of education at SU. A small part of the course was about methods, theories, and other academic paraphrenalia that make up the dissertation. Instead, his main concentration was to prepare us mentally to do the dissertation well and enjoy it. If there is one lesson that was central to the lectures, it is “know yourself”.
Knowing one’s body rythms, when we feel like writing, what our writing blocks are, what tends to put us off, planning the financial status, friends, exercise, etc. are as crucial to our progress as knowing the techniques and having the information. Support from family and friends, having a circle that shares your interests, having someone to goad us to write, and taking the occassional break may well help us finish our Ph.D. in style and smiling.