At the start of senior year you thought writing a thesis would be fun. That all your older friends who wrote theses (and tried to warn you) were just wimps who would take to melodramatic Facebook statuses to lament. And you figured you could write and be that second semester senior you always aspired to be. Because first semester thesis work wasn't so bad, was it?
That's cute of you.
If you haven't figured it out by now, writing a thesis is akin to walking uphill in the snow. It's like the fights of Russell Crowe in...well, any movie he's in. It's like getting that MOFO ring into Mordor. One does not simply write a thesis.
My thesis was a 110 page jaunt that seemed to accomplish nothing I had set out for, and that has, thus far, only entertained myself (if you're looking for a read on the theoretical conceptions of altruism, holla at ya girl). I had panic attacks in the library, literal nightmares, and moments where I thought I would fail. Yet, I did the damn thing.
Completing my thesis is one of the accomplishments I am most proud of and believe it or not, I wouldn't trade the countless all-nighters for anything.
If you are in the process of a second semester thesis exodus, fear not. It's worth it. You can do it and here's how:
1. Just write.
After all my research, I couldn't decide the exact perfect way to organize my writing. So, instead of writing I'd spend hours superfluously outlining and researching even more.
Finally, I took the advice of my mentor: just write. If you're having trouble starting or are unsure of where to go, just write what you think is best. It may not be a final draft, but it'll help get the ball rolling.
2. Set a deadline before it's actually due.
I'd recommend picking a day that is a week before the actual due date. This way you have flexibility and can take your time with finishing touches.
3. Schedule wisely.
I had a date for when my first draft was due (the day before spring break, so that I could chill the fuck out) and an amount of pages I was aiming to hit. I used this countdown to figure out how many pages I had to write everyday to reach my goal.
Figure out how many pages you want to write per day or per week, or set specific goals for specific time periods.
4. Make a routine.
Having a daily process, like a usual library spot, a coffee order (that the baristas memorized) or a habitual break spot helped me focus and feel grounded.
5. Find a thesis partner.
Seek out a friend or someone in your major who is also writing a thesis. This provides someone who is going through the same process to ask for advice, questions, or to have someone to sit next to you in solidarity when it's 4 a.m. in an empty library.
6. Seek help.
I had a committee with three professors to ask questions and receive help from, but I also sought out assistance for my thesis from other individuals: deans, professors, other students.
Initially, I worried that seeking help would be asking too much. However, I found that every one of them was happy to lend a hand and their help was truly useful.
7. Lean on friends.
If you're lucky enough to have great friends like me, they'll notice you are stressed, tired and on the brink of insanity. My friends offered to run errands for me, bring me food to the library, provide rides, calm me down when I was panicking, or practice presentations with them.
I felt bad accepting these favors, but they wanted to be a good friend. Plus, these small gestures really meant a lot to me. Don't feel bad accepting generosity from your friends and remember to pay it forward when they need you. *Cue Lean on Me*
8. Take breaks.
If you never stop working, this will surely result in you blowing up (literally and figuratively). Have designated break times during the day, set bedtimes, take days off to rest, meditate, and exercise. These breaks will help you work more productively.
9. Be proud.
I spent a lot of my thesis time second guessing, criticizing, and feeling disappointed in myself. When I finished, however, I realized how hard I had worked and how proud of myself I was. It was an accomplishment I could take the credit for.
Make sure to think about how much you have accomplished, take ownership of that, and celebrate your success!