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the loneliness of writing a thesis

(10 Posts)
dorothymichaels Wed 05-Apr-17 11:49:25

I'm really struggling. Thesis due in August and so far things were going really well. Lots written, trying to plod away at it every day.
Suddenly I'm blocked. I miss contact with my people while sitting at home or in the office in front of a screen all day. It's taken me days and days to complete the last few sections of one paragraph. I just can't seem to find the incentive.
Supervisor hasn't been able to look at drafts for some time but promises she will now. That might make me feel less directionless. Any tips though? I came off Facebook earlier in the year to focus but now feel even more isolated from the world.
I've got some other stuff going on, mostly looking at possible post-doc funding. It's all so uncertain though and feels like putting all my energy into a long shot. I suspect I'm deep in the valley of shit thesiswhisperer.com/2012/05/08/the-valley-of-shit/ and will come out the other end. It's so lonely and boring though.
All tips and company welcomed.

baconfrazzlerock Thu 06-Apr-17 09:54:30

These last few weeks and months are the hardest in my view. So close but you feel so far. You will come out the end and it will be great, but there's no getting away from the fact that this stage can just feel like a real slog.

Can you try finding different places to work? Cafes, libraries? Also work out exactly what you have to do to get it finished, break this down, and set yourself manageable targets every day, and take regular breaks.

Have you got any time off before August? If you are feeling really blocked, I think it can be helpful just to walk away from it for a few days, and think about something else entirely, or nothing at all.

Good luck!

dorothymichaels Thu 06-Apr-17 10:59:19

Thanks for replying bacon. I was beginning to think this thread was case in point! I'm in Costa just now actually, meeting someone about my research but I do work in cafes a fair bit. I'm also doing Weightwatchers though so that can be a bit too tempting.
Going away at easter to visit family abroad and DH has agreed we can leave the DCs with grandparents and go to a hotel for a night. That will be a much needed break.

ObviousChild Thu 06-Apr-17 11:50:53

One technique I used to get over writer's block was to set a timer. I'd give myself a set amount of time - not long, about 20 minutes - and I'd make myself do nothing but write until the timer went off without editing or deleting anything. Even if it's all shit, just write all your thoughts for that chapter/section and get it all out of your head. I found this worked really well for me - helped to get some thoughts out to work with and also just got me on a roll for writing a bit more. I also set the time to give me/limit my breaks. So 20 mins writing, 10 mins break. It sounds really anal, but it worked for me.

I really feel for you, you are at the hardest part in my opinion. Finishing off the thesis is so hard, because you've finally got to tie up all those loose ends you've been ignoring for 3 years, and make the whole thing coherent.

Good luck with it all - you have done fantastically well to get this far, and just rest assured that you really are nearly there! What last your subject, out of interest?

dorothymichaels Thu 06-Apr-17 12:43:10

I've tried the timer thing but I find I don't stick to it.... which is good I suppose, because I write for longer than the timer then don't manage anything for a while!
I'll be vague about subject because it's pretty identifying. But I'm an allied health professions researcher. Things have been a bit better today. I left the offending chapter and went back to another one. It's been easier.

FlyAwayPeter Thu 06-Apr-17 12:51:33

Have a look at The Thesis Whisperer's latest blog post about the "Star Student" - while writing is always solitary to a certain extent, you can surround it with other things. I've always worked in libraries (am in one now) so there's always a sense of people around, and I bump into friends & colleagues.

dorothymichaels Thu 06-Apr-17 13:14:19

I love the thesis whisperer. I will go and look!

shovetheholly Fri 07-Apr-17 10:43:30

The last bit is really hard! Try to get out of the house for at least part of the day. I am currently working on a book and the only way I can stay sane is to arrange to meet up with friends and sit together in the library and write. smile Reading groups are great, too.

dorothymichaels Fri 07-Apr-17 12:36:48

Just sat down in the library. Supervisor gave me some long overdue comments yesterday so I am working through those. Worked from home this morning from 6:30 to 11ish. Haven't been back to the offending chapter yet.
It dawned on me just now I am seeing it as more of a chore than anything else. I need to try and switch around that viewpoint a bit.

TheLionQueen Tue 18-Apr-17 15:17:55

Hi Dorothy are you still there?
Stumbled across your thread and it really resonated with me- I'm due to submit in Sept and also in health research.
I can sympathise with the loneliness and the struggle- I had a bit of time off over easter and now can't seem to get back into it. This is made worse by the ticking clock!
Just wanted to say you are not alone flowers

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