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PhD Writing: Tips And Prompts

A Dissertation Writing Manual For Those Who've Got Stuck


Being ‘stuck’ is a common experience among people taking their PhD. This is especially manifested during the writing of their dissertations. Most of the time it is hard to know why one is stuck or how he or she can get over it. On the other hand, there are those who get stuck because they took a short break, and do not anymore know how to begin again.

Facilitating the Transition


A person who came from a break will need to condition his or her mind before going back to the writing of the dissertation. There are a few guidelines one can follow in order to lessen or ease the pain of starting up again. These suggestions will facilitate the transition from a break to regular writing. These guidelines are as follows:

  • Make a writing schedule. Choose a time that one will work every day. It doesn’t have to be the same time as long as it is every day.
  • Work limit should be utmost 30 minutes. Initially, this should be the maximum time allotted for writing. Then, once one’s system is getting used to the writing schedule, one can already gradually increase the time allotted for writing.
  • Begin by reading the last chapter written. This is done to remind one where he or she last stopped. Furthermore, this also serves as a proof reading session.

If after doing these steps one is still unable to write, he or she can proceed with the following steps in order to further prepare himself or herself for the dissertation writing:

  • If an individual is still uncomfortable writing his or her dissertation, he or she can begin by writing the things he or she hates about writing a dissertation. He or she can write just a few words. Then, continue writing the dissertation.
  • Write for about ten minutes. Do not worry about what one has written, whether or not it would be useful for the dissertation. After 10 minutes, stop and read what one came up with.
  • On another piece of paper make an outline, a rough draft, or a diagram of the thoughts that are starting to surface. They do not have to be complete sentences, they can be phrases or just keywords.
  • Once the diagram or outline is finished, go back to this one and rewrite what was written on the diagram or outline. This time make the thoughts clearer and write them in complete sentences. Furthermore, one can also add logical links and arguments.
  • Keep one’s eye on the clock, or set a timer for 30 minutes. Once the time set is reached, stop.
  • Keep repeating the outlining and rewriting of thoughts until one gets comfortable writing.
  • Once one is already comfortable writing or was able to come up with something wonderful, stop the routine and proceed with the writing of the dissertation.
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