While not explicitly about grad school or dissertation writing, the story may contain some relevant tips for struggling researchers...

"Arnold always reminds beginners that they have to start somewhere and that it's better to start slowly rather than quit quickly.

According to him, it is preferable to spend more time doing your sets and reps properly rather than rush through your routine, see no results and ultimately give up.

He warns that novice bodybuilders should not neglect any body parts and advises that they should always face obstacles instead of shy away from them.

When Arnold came to America, he had a huge upper body but twiggy legs and calves, and always wore long pants to hide this. To combat this weakness, he purposely started wearing shorts to expose what he was least proud of.

It worked. The humiliation forced him to develop some of the biggest calves in the industry (some believe he has calf implants, but that's best left for another article). Too many men, according to him, cover up their weaknesses.

By facing your flaws, you will gain the drive to conquer them.

He also warns against using exercises just because others do them. He believes that "in bodybuilding, you're essentially conducting a research experiment on yourself," so one shouldn't use an exercise because it is popular."

From http://www.askmen.com/sports/bodybuilding_60/69_fitness_tip.html.
Disclaimer: A friend forwarded me the link; I am not into bodybuiding nor follow such websites.