Flashback one year ago — I had just decided that I was going to write a thesis and I had no idea what I was doing. Now, I’ve finished my thesis (80 pages long!) and successfully defended it to my committee. Here are five tips that I wish I kept in mind during the months-long process of writing a thesis.
- Don’t Constrain Yourself
Picking a topic and research question is already difficult. But after you’ve reached that decision, you might want to alter your course. Don’t feel like you need to stick to your primary plan just because you feel like there’s no other option. Switching around your texts, approach or line of questioning are all viable options at the start of your thesis writing! Make the changes you need to in order to have a successful thesis that you are passionate about.
- Go Slow and Steady
The key to finishing your thesis is taking it slow and steady. Take your time planning, researching and drafting, if that works for you. If you prefer writing off the cuff, make sure to go slow so you don’t have to go back and rewrite chunks of your thesis. You have months to write your thesis, so don’t rush the process!
- Reward Your Wins!
Writing a thesis is extremely daunting, given its length, novelty and the pressure that comes along with it. Finishing preliminary research, a draft or a chapter might not feel like an accomplishment in the big scheme of things — you have a whole thesis to write! But that mentality will only make you more beleaguered and worn out. Instead, make sure to reward and congratulate yourself. Buy yourself a good meal, dance in your room, even take a nap — whatever makes you feel good, do that! Writing a thesis is a long process and you’ll only make it through and be successful if you celebrate yourself every now and again.
- Talk to Your Peers
Writing a thesis can feel isolating, especially during virtual classes. Make sure to reach out to your peers and fellow students who are also writing a thesis. Having a community — even one to gripe and commiserate with — is really important; it reminds you that you’re not alone!
- Give Yourself Grace
Remind yourself: a thesis is a long, hard and difficult process. And most likely, you’ve never written a 35+ paper of original research. Take breaks. Listen to your body. Forgive yourself if you take a misstep. Writing a thesis is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll only cross that finish line if you give yourself some grace throughout the entire process.
Writing a thesis is hard. But it’s also especially rewarding! Employ these tips and your thesis will be a much more manageable project.