If you’re working on the final stages of your thesis, there’s probably a lot of writing going on in your world right now. It’s also likely that you’re juggling that with a job, cooking dinners, spending time with your family and trying to get out of the house once a day for fresh air. Therefore, despite your best intentions, writing might not be happening as often as you’d like.
Here are some tips for carving out some time every day to get those brilliant findings and interpretations committed to the page.
1. Plan ahead
As much as possible, try to plan your weeks so that writing time is scheduled. Of course, life is unpredictable and sometimes we can’t stick to our plans, but if you at least know what you’re aiming for, you’re more likely to get there. If your schedule looks jam-packed, try to think creatively. Can you get up earlier a couple of days a week? Work in the evening while everyone else is watching TV? Get the kids to make the dinner one night so you can spend that time working? (Age of child dependent, of course!)
2. Tell your housemates/partner/family that you have to shut the door
If you’re a housemate, a mother, a father or a spouse, you might feel that you need to drop everything the moment you’re needed by the people you love. Genuine emergencies aside, this is not the case. Can you set a time for working when you tell everyone that you’re not to be disturbed? Even if it’s only for half an hour a day, those half-hours will start stacking up, and so will your word count.
3. Turn off social media
There’s no point telling your family that the door is shut if you’re going to spend all your time behind that closed door frantically checking Twitter and replying to your favourite WhatsApp group chats. Put your phone on silent, don’t open your emails and try to resist the urge to start Googling things as you write – it’s all too easy to fall into an internet rabbit hole that way. You can always look up how to spell phenomenological later; for now, just fudge it and get those words down.
4. Recognise and reward the wins
Writing a thesis is really hard, even when there isn’t a global pandemic. You are doing an amazing job and you deserve to be rewarded. Sadly, most of the time, everyone else is too wrapped up in their own challenges to recognise how awesome you multi-tasking postgrad students are, which means you might need to reward yourself. And that’s just dandy, cos no one knows what you like better than you do! If you pass a milestone, no matter how small, book yourself a day off, buy your favourite cake, settle down with a novel and convince your other half to rub your feet. You’ve earned it.
5. Don’t expect the impossible
It can be really tempting to start setting yourself huge targets: I’m going to write 2,000 words every single day without breaking a sweat. Sound familiar? The problem with these unrealistic targets is that if you can’t stick to them, you might start feeling discouraged, which makes it harder to come to your desk feeling positive and energised the next day. Plus, if you know you don’t have time for your 2,000 words that day, you might think well, there’s no point starting – I’ll begin tomorrow instead. You can see how this thinking can quickly lead to a week with no words written at all. Some of you might find it easier to set a time limit for each day instead or to think in terms of sections per week.
Do you have any tips for writing every day? Do let us know if so. And of course, once you’ve finished writing, you can always book us to proof-read your work so that you can be confident it’s as polished as it can be.
If you’d like to book PGPR to help you with your writing, just get in touch via the form below.