How to Write a Thesis, Step 1: How Working on Paper Can Save You Time

You want to write your thesis you need to know how to go about it right from the start.
At it's most basic level, writing a thesis is about getting your knowledge and ideas out of your head and onto the screen. Most people, whether writing an undergraduate, masters or PhD thesis, find this process extremely difficult.
If you're trying to come up with a thesis proposal, thesis statement or write the thesis itself, it's really hard to just sit and type. Sometimes, writing is easy if you have all the ideas already organised in your head. Other times, you just don't know what to write. So, remember this always;
Your thesis starts on paper
The first thing you should do is to take all the ideas in your head, and everything you know about your research, and get as much of it as you can on paper.
Write all over the paper, in no particular order. Don't worry about the structure, just write ideas. This process lets the creative part of your brain do it's job. You can deal with the logical structure of the thesis later.
Now, you'll probably find that once you get started, you have too many ideas for one piece of paper. Fine, use another! Once you run out of ideas, or just get bored, take a break. Then...
Think about the thesis structure but keep working on paper.
Look over what you've written down, and start to draw links between the ideas. Take your time over this stage. There's often pressure just to sit at the desk and spend time just increasing your word count. If you want to finish your thesis quickly though, extra time spent on preparation will save time in the long run.
Until you have a clear thesis plan, keep working on paper
Only once you have an idea for the structure can you sit down to write the first words of your thesis or thesis proposal. If you just sit and type without planning, you'll run out of ideas very quickly. You won't be able to link one idea or argument to the next, and probably you'll want to start working on another section, with the intention of coming back to it later.
Or you might suddenly have a brilliant idea, then drop what you were working on to write about your new idea. This isn't good! This leads to a poorly structured thesis, which is then difficult to edit. Get the ideas phase out first, and it will be much easier to keep concentration.
You don't rearrange the walls of a house once it's half-built, so don't try to do the same with your thesis. Plan the structure, build the arguments, then the editing should be like rearranging the furniture rather than relaying the foundations. Whatever you're writing, spend an hour planning, first roughly, then with more organisation. It will save you huge amounts of time, and your writing will be better!
You want to finish your thesis quickly; you can now download my "Short Guide To Writing Fast"; A free 30 page PDF on how to write a thesis, including an example of the process described above. For weekly advice on thesis writing techniques, follow my blog at The Three Month Thesis. Happy writing!:)


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