Jillybean's Blog

{June 13, 2012}   How To (or Not To) Write a Thesis

If you just so happen to wake up one day and find yourself in grad school (like I did), you’ll be writing a thesis before you know it. And when you’re staring this beast in the eye, here’s a few things to remember:

1. First and foremost, when it’s time to write, TURN OFF the TV. RIGHT NOW. The silence will only be deafening for a few minutes. Once that passes, you won’t even miss it.

2. Speaking of which, you won’t ever hear yourself say, “Wow, there’s a million channels and nothing’s on.” EVERYTHING on TV is interesting when you’re avoiding the task at hand.

3. There’s no one making sure you’re working on it everyday. Sticking to it takes discipline. Letting yourself down (ironically) is easier than admitting you’ve slacked off to a respected professor.

4. The phone will always ring more often than usual when you’re trying to stay focused. And then, when you actually need a break from writing and need to reconnect with the outside world, your phone will be silent. Turn that off, too.

5. Taking a break means just that. If you use said break to get “a refreshing pedicure” or lunch with your friends, you’re most likely not getting back to work that day.

6. You really won’t get those minutes back you wasted.

7. Not that I believe there is ever a “bad” time to quit smoking…but this probably isn’t a good one.

8. Stop looking at Facebook and Twitter. There’s been nothing new in the last three seconds.

9. The laundry will (eventually) get done. Oh, and you’ll find that ink actually DOES stain. Don’t write notes and wear white pants.

10. On that note, this is an instance (and they are rare these days) where technological advancements won’t really help you. There’s nothing like good ‘ol pen and paper when it comes to organizing your thoughts. And post-its. Just pray you can read your scribbles later.

11. Booze will get the creative juices flowing. Just pace yourself or you’ll have an unscheduled nap ahead of you.

12. If you thought you had knowledge of a topic, you’ll realize you don’t really know anything about it. In fact, you’ll realize you really don’t know a whole lot about a whole lot when you look really hard. I thought a thesis topic on heroes would be relatively easy. As it turned out, I really didn’t have a clue as to what the hell I was talking about to begin with.

13. The messiness of my house is in direct proportion to how scattered and unorganized my thoughts are.

14. Your mind can work just as much for you as against you. It’s the reason I had a good start, a bumpy middle and an even bumpier conclusion. Directing your mind can feel a bit like steering a steamroller. I have yet to figure out how to fix this.

15. Ideas and inspiration are a rude pair. They’re inconsiderate and don’t care what you’re doing when they show up. They have no manners. They come to you in the shower, in the middle of the night, while driving (fast), when your hands are dirty, and even when you’re…um, “reading the newspaper.”

16. Procrastination is a persistent bedfellow. And its perils rival that of the worst boyfriend you’ve ever had. Or the worst job.

17. Truth is your best ally. Unless you’re procrastinating. See #16.

18. Your thesis may or may not be causing you heartburn. See #11.

19. Bribing yourself with a brand new pair of shoes will get you motivated to get off the couch, but you won’t get a whole lot of writing done.

20. Saying “no” to your friends is TOUGH, but they will be there for you when you’re finished. And when you ARE finally finished, you won’t have that pesky task at hand clouding the precious moments.

21. There IS such a thing as a “life journalist.”

22. Skipping four meals in a row is NOT cool. Especially if you buy into #11.

23. No draft will ever be good enough in your mind. But, in the end, all that matters is whether or not the thesis committee stamps “approve.”

24. I imagine finishing a thesis is a lot like giving birth. Except you can drink while bringing it to term. But is it just as painful? I’ll get back to you on that one.

25. You pay TWICE as much for instant gratification.

26. Don’t take it (or yourself) too seriously. In that same vein, you have to really believe it’s possible to finish. You’ll get it done. And if you’re very lucky, another project you don’t yet know about is on the way.

27. When it’s all said and done, you will know a lot more about a topic you really care about. But, more than that, you’ll know a whole lot more about yourself.



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