Writing a thesis? 5 quick tips that might keep your brain from going KABOOM.

apblog-mwahahahaI just finished my thesis.

I graduated.

But it was an undertaking.

And the scope is hard to realize until you’re in the midst of it, floating amongst the wreckage of countless articles, books, theories and half-realized dreams…but once I was safely ashore, I realized that there were a few things that made it very much bearable. And maybe it’ll help some other poor, cross-eyed soul in the aether.

Good luck, friends.

    Thesis Tips to Keep your Brain in One Piece

1. Choose a topic that you’re not only passionate about, but will be able to spend months of time on. It will be a topic that you will be in the thick of for a long time, so you better be able to come back to it again. And again. And again.
2. When you choose a thesis director, ask a professor who knows at least some of your body of work, someone who has challenged you to improve. It also needs to be someone you’re comfortable with.
3. Make yourself a schedule and share it with your director, so they can help keep you on track. Otherwise, you will find yourself with a lot less time than you thought and 3x the work. It’s easy to put things off. It’s hard as hell to get caught up.
4. Regardless of whether you’re an outliner or pantser, write an outline. Write many outlines–pre-drafting, during drafting, post-drafting. Keep your thesis (your whole point) in mind during every chapter, or you will find yourself adrift.
5. You won’t be able to fit everything in this sucker. Save the stuff that won’t fit for later. It’s OK. If you’re like me, you’re a glutton for punishment and you’ll go back for more. And you’ll have the material for the more already in a Word document. Which you have saved in many, many places, because you’re a good little researcher.

And breathe. A lot. Don’t cut out the fun stuff in your life, because you’re going to need that release now more than ever.

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2 thoughts on “Writing a thesis? 5 quick tips that might keep your brain from going KABOOM.

  1. Congratulations! This is no small undertaking, and you’ve accomplished something substantial. In terms of effort and time, a thesis isn’t too different from a novel. Substitute “first novel” for “thesis” in all of the above, and you have a great list of suggestions for novelists. It’s also discipline-invariant; this is great advice regardless of whether you’re working in humanities, social science, biological/physical science, or mathematics.

    The other piece of advice I’d add: as soon as something is in focus, write it up in “final” form, and brainstorm about what its context might be. Keep a running journal of questions. When you get to the end, you will have a first draft ready for editing.

    1. Hi, EP, so glad to hear from you! Though I took a decade to reply. :-/ But wow, thank you so much! I really appreciate that. In some ways, completing a novel and thesis are not too different, but each undertaking also has its own special requirements that makes it a very unique devil. I’m glad you think this is good advice! :D

      Your advice is also definitely spot on. Without those questions, you’re left at the beginning of a whole new task without a starting point. Excellent point! Thank you!

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