Writing A Master Thesis: The Ultimate Test of Self Discipline

thesiswritingThis is the last chance I will ever get at being a good student. Getting into that early-to-bed-early-to-wake-meakes-a-student-pretty-&-great routine, and sitting down with my darling thesis for eight hours a day. My deadline is January 31st.  It feels so close! I can’t recommend moving, and a break-up in the very first month of thesis writing. It sure messed up my thesis writing process. But now, things are somewhat settled (getting there, still) and I can sit down on my own without crying. So now is the time to nail those 80 pages!

My mind is set on writing 20 pages a month the next four months + carrying out and transcribing interviews. So getting into that thesis mode is crucial. But… How to get there? Do you have any great study tips to share?

Going somewhere else than my dorm room is a must. So is some hot tea/coffee to bring along. Cake, on special days, is important too. And embrace the fact that some days will be utterly horrible and that is OK. Just do something. Update the bibliography for example. I have not yet spilled any tears over my thesis, but I’m sure that’s bound to happen one day.

That was a thesis update. I will of course let you know how I’m doing along the way. Maybe some of you, dear readers, are also in the blissful thesis heaven?

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4 thoughts on “Writing A Master Thesis: The Ultimate Test of Self Discipline”

  1. Routines and getting out of the dorm is a must, not least so as to grab some cake. For me having a regular bunch of people to have lunch and/or coffee with was absolutely crucial. Just talking with someone about something different or venting problems is so very useful. Necessary even. Also, it helps with motivation if you have something – or someone – to look forward to during the day…

    Many places, an MA thesis is not something you spend 6 months of your life on. Here, in England for instance, one usually has courses (and exams) throughout the last semester, with theses handed in at the end of summer. Same amount of words required usually, but an entirely different process, which is maybe more suitable, because one of the big problems with the Danish system is that by giving the student so much time on writing the damn thing leads to higher (self)expectations of producing something truly original and ground-breaking when really I think less should – and usually does – suffice. Professors don’t really expect you to reinvent the wheel, ya know?

    I did mine in 3 months because I had to. If I hadn’t had a self-inflicted deadline I would probably have spent (at least) 6 months. In hindsight I’m absolutely thrilled I did it this way. And, yes, the thesis itself turned out just A-OK ’cause, yeah, it really isn’t as big of a deal as most people tell themselves.

    PS: That being said…. title is wrong. Obviously, writing a PhD requires infinitely more self-discipline 😉 Spending 3 or 4 years entirely alone – albeit with monthly supervisory meetings – is a tortuous task of self-motivation. Not for everyone, unlike a 6 month MA spell which I think is something most people CAN come to terms with.

    1. Thanks, Mads! That was really helpful 🙂

      And oh God, yes a PhD is something mucho bigger. Not for me! If you did your thesis in three months I can do it in six. I have to. I will just have to tell myself that a thesis ain’t that big of a deal. And not some un-climbable mountain.

      Also, interesting how they do a thesis in England. I don’t know what I would prefer.

      Hugs and weekendluv en masse.

      1. And having ‘someone’ to look forward to doesn’t sound that bad 😉 I think it will be better for my thesis writing to have ‘something’ to look forward to instead. Like a concert, a movie, a new TV-series episode or a rewarding myself with a good read.

  2. Though I am not in “full blown thesis mode” yet, I would say that for me, it is very important to have people around you who are in the same stage in their life. It’s annoying to have people try to persuade you to go out or talk about going out and how much it sucks that you can’t join when you know that the best thing for you is to get a good night’s sleep and be fresh in the morning. This also gives you the opportunity to bounce ideas off people and talk about things that are pesky and annoying during the writing process, like citing and footnotes, etc. Getting up early and setting that plan for the rest of the day (whether you follow it or not) is something I feel really helps me. Can’t work in your room – no problem. The library opens early… get there right away. Wake up in enough time that you have eaten (a filling!) breakfast and planned your day all before 8am – and also make your day “top heavy” so that in the evenings, you can relax and take your mind elsewhere.

    My thesis supervisor has given me the advice that even though I don’t have to have a pre-defense (or defense at all), I should imagine a pre-defense due one month before I would like to turn in my thesis. That way, that is my deadline to stop writing and tie up the major loose ends. There will be plenty so it’s important that you have at least a month to tie those up and give yourself ample time to make sure you have that “red thread”. No, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel but what’s the point of writing if you’re going to just rewrite what someone else has written? You have to bring something new. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking nor does it have to be life altering. That being said, it does have to be “fresh” (as in based off the most recent research)… so I do see the point of having a thesis time of being 6 months, unlike 3 like in the UK.

    Just my two cents! Good luck – maybe I will see you at the library soon?!
    -Michael

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