Finishers’ Wisdom: Tip #2 – Break it into Bits

Recent doctoral thesis finishers Emma Kelly and Wendy Moore got together at the latest AUT Postgraduate Writers’ Retreat to collate their 10 top tips for working on a PhD thesis. ThesisLink is publishing their insights over two weeks in our latest blogging event: Finishers’ Wisdom! Enjoy.

Tip #2: When it’s overwhelming, break it into smaller bits – focus on just one sentence at a time

The days when it all seems so hard, so overwhelmingly huge, when you just cannot see your way out of the chapter you have been working so hard on, it is easy to want to walk away. Sometimes that is exactly what you need to do, take a moment, make a cuppa, get some fresh air.

But then go back to work. Instead of focusing on completing a chapter or even a page, work on getting one sentence down. Don’t over think it, just write the thoughts that go through your mind. Remember you will be reworking it anyway, so just get the thoughts down and go back and revise it on a day when things are flowing better.

The tip: there are going to be great days and not-so-great days – sometimes writing just one sentence can be enough for a day. Don’t beat yourself up on the not-so-great days, just make sure you write something. You will feel better for having put at least something on a page.

About Anaise Irvine

Dr Anaise Irvine is the Editor of Thesislink and leads the Researcher Education and Development team at Auckland University of Technology. Her PhD research analysed how contemporary films and novels represent genetic engineering as a social justice issue. These days she works with researchers at all levels to improve their research skills, and the most obscure of her own research skills is being able to turn novels into phylogenetic trees!

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