Well I may have gotten a little distracted from the blog, but the thesis due date is around the corner! I have absolutely loved this year, an entire year dedicated to what I want to write about. There’s always people warning students that post-grad is nothing like under-grad, and writing a great 1.5k essay is nothing like writing a sustained argument for 15-20k words. That is true, but I find it suits me.
I thought I’d just write a few things about what I have learned along the way, mostly as a reminder to myself, since I’m also putting in a PhD proposal next week…:
- Start writing early – even if it’s crap. Well really, all early writing is. You read more along the way, things will change, just don’t even hesitate about writing. Doesn’t even need to be linear!
- Keep up with referencing – this one almost got me, and something I definitely need to do for PhD. I left writing the bibliography to the end, accidentally skipped some references and took ages trying to find the right page (or even, book!)
- Don’t be afraid to confront – some of my early drafts were more about picking and choosing who I agreed with, which is okay, but the whole point of a thesis is to be an argument. It’s not about being mean or offensive, though it sometimes felt that way (scholars that completely dismiss Buffy as ‘teenage romance fodder’ and say it’s just like Twilight. Uh NO!). On the other hand, don’t rant. Stay relevant!
- Just because it’s interesting doesn’t mean it’s relevant – There were quite a few things I wanted to talk about that ultimately didn’t really add to my argument. It was interesting, certainly! And I thought it was well-expressed. But I needed to step back sometimes and see if it answers my research question, and alas, this beautiful giant chunk of awesome was cruelly cut down.
- Too much writing is better than too little and don’t stress the word count – I tried to be all structured and set aside X amount of words per section, but that so didn’t happen. I just wrote EVERYTHING I could think of. It doesn’t need to be exactly 5k words for 3 chapters and 2.5k words for intro/concl. I’m
- Ask your supervisor! – I was lucky in that my supervisor was awesome, and I’m hoping to have her again for PhD. When we started, I was sort of incoherent and ranty about what I wanted to do and why I thought it was important, and she was able to help me pick the good bits and form a structured idea. And when I start freaking out, she was there to tell me to stop 😛
- Everybody hurts sometimes – We feel like imposters, we feel like everything is awful and it should just be chucked out. This too will pass! Thesis writing can get a bit lonely, especially if there are few or no people in your course with you doing the same thing. I found Twitter kept me sane – for whatever situation, there was always someone who messaged back about feeling the exact same!
- Twitter is awesome – Okay, this one is more subjective. I love twitter. I’m twitter-buddies with people from within my field and without, academics and fans, and there was always someone to talk to (argue) with about any topic, to help develop your own ideas, offer a completely different point of view, or send you an article. Trust in the people!