Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Committing Not to Procrastinate...

...or committing to write? A couple years ago Self-Exclusion used the example of a week-long dissertation writing-lock-in, one with $50 at stake for the volunteer participants, to muse on positive and negative commitments, commitments to do something versus commitments to refrain from doing something. A similar writing event was hosted by the University of Chicago this summer -- one of four now held every year. A new wrinkle is that the write-in was held off-campus, which presumably puts the usual quotidian distractions of the participating graduate students somewhat out of reach. After the four hours of work are complete, there's a lunchtime program:
The common barriers to writing—perfectionism and daily distractions—fall away through the program’s rigid structure and community spirit. During the lunch break, speakers from the many offices on campus that serve graduate students address common questions and problems, such as how to submit a dissertation or where to go for career advice on campus.
The community spirit angle is interesting, as it is a dimension that is missing from garden-style casino self-exclusion. It is a commonplace that gambling exclusion works better when it is paired with a treatment regimen, and perhaps the treatment in part serves as a source of social support.

Once again, $50 is at stake for the dissertation writers, and one of those lunchtime services consists of a free massage. Further, in what surely is a major incentive for U of C graduate students, those who put in the 20 hours of interruption-free work during the week receive a Latin-inscripted tee shirt:
And if the satisfaction of marching toward that PhD weren’t enough reward, the students who complete each session get a T-shirt from Graduate Student Affairs that says scribo, ergo conficiam—“I write, therefore I finish.”

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