i was so proud because i wrote my first blog- and hadn't quite finished when it was time for class, so i saved it....and now it's gone. i'll take that as a sign that i should write about something else...
currently, the goal that all of the 2nd year grad students in my department have is to come up with a paper topic for our 3rd year papers. which really is the first stepping stone to writing a full-fledged dissertation. it's rather intimidating.
the trick is to come up with an idea that is new, a twist on some hot topic in the papers, and then to magically come up with a dataset that fits to answer your question. trouble is, the kinds of questions that are acceptable for an economics phd paper are not the kinds of questions that you can run experiments for (not that this would be an easier task i'm sure), but instead you have to find some firm or agency who just so happens to have researched and gotten data that fits to answer your question!
of course, i don't have an idea yet, so the data problem is a little bit of an early panic.
everyone always told me that procrastination improves as you get older.... maybe i'm not old enough for that to have set in yet?