Current thesis word total: 85,594 so longer than The Secret Garden!
(Surely it must be almost finished??? Microbes are so small how can a thesis about them be so huge!!)
Anyway, this week has been a bit different….
Thesis Boot Camp came to town!
Normally I write at home, I have everything set up on my desk/floor the way I like, I have no distractions from my colleagues chatting in our communal office or interruption due to questions about experimental problems. Also I can use my voice to text technology (dragon http://www.nuance.co.uk/dragon/index.htm – which I really recommend) without irritating anyone. This set up has worked well for me the last few months.
However this week I attended a 3 day writing retreat at the University of Nottingham (see more @UoNTBC). It was a specific course called Thesis Boot Camp, the aim of the course was to get one draft results chapter written in the 3 days. An ambitious aim.
I am already past this point so decided I would draft my tricky introduction instead.
The structure of the course is actually very simple:
Tell 3 people what you are aiming to do that day,
write in the silent communal space with 25 PhD students for 3 hours,
have lunch and talk to the other stressed PhD students,
return for write for 2-3 hours,
have an active break- a walk,
return to writing 1-2 hours,
have dinner with other PhD students,
write for 1 more hour,
then talk to original 3 people about what you achieved,
and tell your word count to the organisers.
Did it work for me?
I have mixed feeling about the course, as it didn’t work for me personally, but I could see it was working for others. Their twitter account shows that other students that attended are positive about the course. So maybe its worth a go if you are struggling with procrastination issues as there is a pre-organised structure to your day. Also if you are a PhD student who is feeling really isolated and lonely because of the writing process, you may benefit from seeing other student in the same situation as yourself.
I think I went into the course with the wrong expectations. Secretly I was expecting more formal’teaching’ about effective writing practices. I wanted some sort of clever writing or editing tips which would revolutionise the way I write. This didn’t happen. The only real tip offered was the pomodoro technique which uses 25 minutes of writing with 5 minute breaks, which doesn’t work for me as I take about 15 minutes to settle into writing. But worth a go to see if it works for you.
There was no loss in attending, I generated about as much writing as I would have if I had been at home-almost 5,000 words!!! But this was nowhere close to the 20,000 word goal set by the course…
Anyway nothing ventured nothing gained!
I would love to know about any useful courses anyone has attended in regards to writing tips and strategies- please leave a comment.
Also people writing up, out of interest what is your typical word generation a day?
Off to do some more typing!