Catch 22 and Dissertations

May 1st is Joseph Heller birthday. Heller is best know as the author of the famous satirical novel Catch-22. Ever feel like your dissertation is one big Catch 22?…

As the most famous satirical treatment of bureaucracy of all time, Catch-22 is full of gems like:

“Catch-22 states that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually contains whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating.”

We could talk how much this passage reminds you of the dissertation process sometimes, but I want to explore something about Heller and his writing process that may actually spur you to action.

Joseph Heller didn’t write a passion project, and neither should you.

What? This novel, which became a cult classic, and literally coined the term “catch-22?”… Surely, this was a passion project.

Nope! Not even a little bit.

In fact, Heller had the idea for the story and then dashed off a chapter within a week and sent it to his agent. His agent sent the draft to publishers when it was only one third completed, and Heller didn’t even plan to finish it unless publishers were interested.

It took Heller years to finish because he was working on other projects (that’s NOT the part I want you to emulate), but when he finally got around to it, his publishers requested heavy revisions, including changing the name from Catch-18 because it was similar to the title of another recently published novel.

Would the author of a passion project agree to all of this? Probably not. But a professional writer would and did, and Joseph Heller went down in history as the author of a very successful novel.

When asked later why he never wrote another book as good as Catch-22, Heller quipped “Who has?”

Do you feel like your committee has you stuck in a Catch-22? Need help breaking free? If so, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good fit for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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