Five tips for staying motivated to write your thesis
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
A young lady recently wrote me an email to, not only thank me for my “above excellent” (her words, not mine) editing and proofreading, but also for giving her the motivation to finish writing her dissertation after having passed through a rough time during her studies. This ‘rough time’ is something that is not talked about enough. Those who eventually submit their dissertation pass it off as a bad memory while those who sadly never finish their studies slink off into the night, assuming that something is wrong with them and they were never meant to graduate.
The truth is that that rough time is entirely normal, experienced by many, and not always easy to overcome. When the cursor blinks menacingly at you at the top of a blank Word document while your deadline for submission is closing in, the urge to check your emails for the hundredth time that day, or your Facebook wall, or what’s in the fridge, or whether your dog needs a walk, can be very, very strong. Anything to run away from the daunting task of writing.
Writing (especially at the level and length required for a thesis) is no easy task. It takes fortitude, training and discipline. For many, their thesis is the biggest writing assignment of their life up to that point. Increasingly, students are coming to college from the world of work. This makes the student body more diverse and research more grounded in the real world (both wonderful things), but it also means that these students have not been steeped in years of assignment writing. Some don’t even know the basics of citing sources or writing formally. This only makes writing one’s thesis harder.
So what can you do? First, accept that you have to write. It is useless carrying out the most interesting interviews or a wonderful experiment if you don’t accept that you have to write it all down. Second, make preparations about what you are going to write about so you can start immediately when you sit at your desk. Just prepare a small section that you are going to write about. When you break down a long writing task into smaller chunks, it will become much more manageable.
Third, develop a healthy routine. Do not sit in front of your computer for eight frustrating hours hoping that inspiration will hit you right after you re-check your emails and do the laundry, only to go to bed at night feeling depressed that you did not write anything. Instead, sit for two or three hours with a solid plan, turn off all distractions and work solidly for that period of time. In those couple of hours, try to reach your personal quota (many don’t have more than 500 good words in them in a day but 500 words is very good progress) but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Some days you will write more because it will come naturally to you and some days you will write less because you are struggling. Writing the dissertation is a marathon, not a sprint, so work with your deadline in mind, but don’t rush things too much. Slow but steady will get you there. For the rest of the day, eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and try to carry on with life as normal. A dissertation does not mean that life has to be completely on hold.
Fourth, reach out to someone if you are stuck. Writing can be a terribly lonely endeavour and needing help is completely normal. Don’t just assume that your blues will suddenly disappear and that tomorrow you will start writing. Dithering can make things worse and then you start to panic because your deadline is so close. So talk to your tutor, your proofreader, a friend; find someone who can help you move things along.
Fifth, do not strive for perfection because it might send you crazy. Better a finished but imperfect thesis than a flawless but only half-written one. Leave the perfectionism to your editor, which neatly brings me to me.
What can I do for you? My job is to fill in the gaps left by you and your tutor. I will do the basics that a proofreader and editor does (correct your grammar/vocabulary and re-write badly written sentences) but I will also give you tips on how to write, research and think better. I will praise you for what you do right, point out what you do questionably, suggest how you can do things better with clear instructions on how to achieve that, and answer all the questions you might have about the writing process.
When I was doing my own studies, I was lucky enough to have the kindest tutors. They were, as we say in Maltese, tqatta’ u tiekol minnhom, or, if you prefer a biblical equivalent, they’d ‘let you take their tunic, and have their cloak as well’ (Matthew 5:40). My favourite tutor would invite me over to his house and we would spend whole evenings discussing my work over cups of tea. Then I’d leave with a small pile of books courtesy of the tutor’s personal library.
Unfortunately, and not without reason, many tutors today are not like this. Their workload has increased and they have other academic commitments so they only offer the bare minimum number of contact hours, which, let’s face it, are not nearly enough. That’s why I am here to fill the gaps. Now I admit that I am not going to invite you over for tea (COVID-19 and all that) and I am sure your fashion sense is better than mine, so you don’t need my cloak either, but I will do anything and everything that is in my power to get you over the finish line, ideally with aplomb.
So, as the academic year 2021/2022 gets under way, I strongly suggest you get in touch. I will bring the best writing out of you and, together, we can create something beautiful.
Contact me now:
Phone: (+356) 9992 8710