This blog post was inspired by a twitter conversation with Studious Jen (@mystudiouslife), curator of #Acwri spreadsheets and Jackie Kirkham (@JackieKirkham) on achieving the monthly writing goals we set for ourselves. With all sort of pressures mounting in the run up to handing it the thesis it is so demotivating (e.g. that crawl under a duvet and weep sort of feeling) to see that you haven’t met your own deadlines/word counts/(insert goal here) to the point that panic really starts to settle in. I’m not talking about the emotional freak out (e.g. wailing and gnashing of teeth) but that darker edge of despair threatening to paralyse you because you somehow have to prove that what you invested into this thesis must we worth it. It has to be, because the alternative is terrifying think about.
It’s a very real feeling that I try to manage through reminding myself that achieving the small steps is crucial to keeping a sense of progress. When I haven’t made my daily word count but have edited a section of the thesis into something more coherent, I try to see that as an achievement. Every effort counts because…it does. Fact.
Initially I had the idea that I would come to a point where I would be ready to write the thesis, where my ideas would be so clear that I could just transfer them onto the page. Like a transcription, just hammer it out! And then I could go back to the draft (singular), do some editing and BOOM: a thesis is born!
Or not. It quickly dawned on me that it is difficult to write a thesis in a linear fashion because it is a completely different product to anything I’ve written before and chipping away at it, bit by bit, for me is the only way forward. Suzanne Ulm in her FastBleep blog post gives some great advice on “making small starts” through organising small blocks of time to keeping to small tasks. It seems like common sense stuff that I should know about but then actually putting them into practice is making all the difference. So I do a lot of my thinking through the act of writing where my ideas start to really coalesce. It’s frustrating because part of me wishes that I understood what I wanted to say before trying to write it down but, it just isn’t happening that way. So why agonise over that? At least that’s what I remind myself in order to snap out of the pity party and essentially just try to get on with it. Line by line.