Writing a thesis is an epic undertaking.  At some stage, most people find themselves spending large chunks of time in front of a computer, with little to show at the end of the day.  It’s easy to keep doing the same thing and forget that productive writing rarely ‘just happens’.  One of the ways of becoming a better thesis writer is to think about writing as a set of practices, not all of which include sitting and typing.

The Library has a new page on Writing productively, its Graduate Research & Writing website which aims to help you become a more productive writer through developing effective writing habits.  The page includes tips on creating physical and mental spaces which support rather than hinder concentration.  Although mid-walk and midnight random thoughts are wonderful things, good writing time is often planned writing time.   You’ll find some great suggestions here for preparing your writing time by creating achievable, specific goals.

Understanding your particular approach to writing can help you improve both the quality and quantity of what you write.  Sometimes you need to move away from your laptop and do some “pre-writing”.  Dipping in and out of different strategies will not only help you prepare for writing, it will also help you get over the seemingly insurmountable brick walls that every thesis writer occasionally finds blocking their way!

If you would like more help, the talented learning skills advisers who wrote this page are available for meetings to discuss ways you can improve your writing.  The Library also runs virtual thesis writing groups, where you can share your writing with other thesis writers.  And don’t forget our virtual Shut Up and Write group sessions where you can talk about writing and, most importantly, write in wonderfully productive silence with others.  Contact your subject librarian for further information.


The author, Anne Melles, is a Research and Learning Coordinator at the Matheson Library.