Writing a thesis is a true academic challenge. A thesis is usually long in length (over 10,000 words) and is written over a longer period of time than say an essay or a dissertation. A thesis can take a year to research and write, but generally, if it is forming art of a PhD study course, it will take between 2 and 5 years to finalise. That is a long time to dedicate yourself to responding to one research question or to exploring a tiny element of a specific subject matter.
So how do you keep yourself sufficiently motivated to continue with your research and writing over such a long period of time? And importantly, how do you keep yourself so motivated that you continue to enjoy the subject that you are investigating and that this enthusiasm you have for the subject comes through in the final thesis that you produce? It can all be very tricky, regardless of how much enthusiasm and passion you have for your subject matter deep down.
There are a few things that you can do however to help keep your motivation levels high; well as high as is feasible given the task in hand! Listed below are some ideas to help you keep your spirits up as you embark on one of the most draining academic tasks there probably is:
- Create a study and thesis writing timetable. Yes you may have 2 years to complete your thesis, and initially this will seem like a lifetime, but in reality the time will pass very quickly and with a thesis, you really don't want to find yourself with 2 months left before the deadline, and 30,000 words still left to write and edit. That would all be far too depressing. Creating a study and writing timetable helps you avoid this disaster occurring. But more than that, it can help you stay focused and thus motivated. By setting internal goals and deadlines for completing smaller tasks as you progress through your thesis, you'll find that you gain a sense of progress and success along the way.
- Join or create a study group. Self motivation is very hard to sustain. It is easier to feel motivated when you have others around you who are working towards the same goal as you, and who you can feed off of for both motivation and advice. By joining or creating a study group you'll find that you can lean on others when the going gets tough, and at the same time you yourself can become a motivator for your fellow peers.
- Take a break. Often the best writing is created when an author has the time to step back from his or her work and give themselves and their brain a break from total absorption in the subject matter they are researching or writing about. Ironically, you need to step away from your thesis at regular intervals to ensure that it is written at its very best.
- Reward yourself. This is where the study and writing timetable comes in handy! As you met an internal goal, as you complete each section of your thesis, give yourself a little reward. This could be simply an afternoon off to lie in the sun, going out with friends, cooking yourself your favourite dinner or doing a little shopping. It doesn't need to be anything big, but the introduction of rewards throughout the completion of your thesis will keep you motivated in the long run.
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