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Winter Break: Some Project and Thesis Tips!

Over the winter break, no doubt most of you will be hard at work on the first draft of your master’s projects and theses! Here are some ways to get help before your draft is due, along with some helpful resources and strategies for getting that draft done.

Where to get help:

Writing and editing resources:

Project/Thesis tips and strategies:

Peg Boyle Single has some great tips on writing theses and dissertations, much of which is applicable to your project. She also wrote a great (and really short!) book on this topic. 
 
How to Write a Lot by Paul Silvia; this book is geared toward academic writing, but it’s suitable for all kinds of writing, and how to make a habit of it. Best of all, this book is super-short at just 149 pages! 
 
This Gradhacker article has a lot of great tips, primarily geared toward getting yourself in the right mental space to get the work done. The main take-aways:
  • You are not alone—all your classmates (and those before you) have faced feelings of anxiety, failure, and inability related to this project. You may feel like you’re the only one struggling, but all of us who have trudged the halls of graduate school have faced similar feelings. Reach out for the support of your classmates—they probably need to vent their frustration, too.
  • Work in small increments, like half an hour. Even a little progress is something. Facing the seemingly insurmountable goal of writing your entire project can seem daunting, but you get it done by just breaking it down into tiny pieces.
  • Don’t strive for perfection, strive for DONE.
This blog post on outlining shows a great way to break your project up into chunks. Outlines are key to breaking your project into small, digestable pieces, and for keeping you on track.
 
A focus statement can be helpful: write a one- or two-sentence summary of your project. Write or print it on a notecard or small piece of paper, and keep it in front of you while you work. Look up at it every once in a while, and use it to keep yourself on track. Often, while working on a story or research, your mind will take off on wild tangents—having your focus statement in front of you can help you maximize your time by keeping you focused.