How to be Well-Organized When Writing a Doctoral Dissertation
Writing a dissertation is a harrowing process. It can seem daunting. However, there are a few key skills and tips which you can employ to make your life easier.
It’s important to set aside time each and every day. Make a habit of putting a few hours aside for ‘work time.’ You can overcome a block by forcing yourself to write. It doesn’t matter if what you write is good or bad, so long as you get into the habit of putting words on paper
Have an objective word count in mind for each day. If it’s only 500 or a 1,000 words, it doesn’t matter, so long as you get it down each day, every day.
Give yourself mini-awards. Tell yourself, ‘If I write 1,000 words in the next three hours, I can get a coffee, or have a cigarette-break, or check my facebook.’ Be vigilante. Do not cave until you hit your goal for the day.
Before you begin, organize a detailed schedule. Break it down into chapter headings, synopsis, and detailed paragraph ideas. When you feel you don’t know what to do next, go back to your plan, pick something you can do, and smash it out. A plan keeps you focussed, it keeps you on track, and it keeps you writing.
While it’s important to keep your head in the game, you don’t want to suffer burnout. If you find yourself rambling or losing your way, take a ten or fifteen minute break. Go for a walk, meet a friend, talk about something that is completely off topic. When you come back to the desk, you’ll be able to immerse yourself again.
The most important thing is to get your first draft out the way. If you start pruning too soon you’ll lose focus and lose faith in yourself. Remember, in your first draft there is no such thing as a bad idea. So get writing, and when you’re all written out get editing.
When you finish your first or second draft, you’ll be sick of looking at your own work. So get a trusted friend or advisor to go through it with a red pen and take what they say on board.
Most importantly, believe in yourself and what you are doing. You can do it!
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