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A history Ph D it might follow a timeline from the past to the present; a science Ph D might echo the order of the experiments that have been performed.But multi-disciplinary Ph Ds, or Ph Ds in ‘polyglot’ disciplines like education, do not have comfortable traditions. Try the following technique: Following these steps will help you to create the Thesis map – but it’s important to remember that this is merely an aid to writing, not a plan set in stone.Students, particularly those in the humanities and arts, tend to agonise over the Thesis document ‘structure’.
In this post I want to reflect on Rachel Aaron’s threefold advice and put in the context of thesis writing.
1) Know what you are going to write before you write it Composing a Thesis requires you to do different types of writing.
If I had scenes that were boring enough that I didn’t want to write them, then there was no way in hell anyone would want to read them. Unfortunately in Thesis World this is not always possible.
There will always be parts that are functional and unexciting; I call these the ‘dry toast’ sections – you need to do a lot of unproductive chewing before you can swallow.
I think the thesis map is a big part of this clarity because it keeps the focus tight.
This organising technique works best for very late stage thesis students, but it can be a way of creating order at any time in your journey and working out what you need to find out or write more about. The Thesis Bootcamp formula was developed by Liam Connell and Peta Freestone of the University of Melbourne. I’m now a 10,000 words a day believer because I have been watching students write even more than this in a single day at the Thesis Bootcamps we run at ANU.Perfectionist writers have a problem doing this, which is why we see so many perfectionists at our Bootcamps.At Bootcamp we teach our students to focus the generative writing energy to productive effect.Some of this writing is ‘generative’ in that it helps you form and articulate ideas by…just writing as much as you can, not as well as you can.When first presented with the idea of the blocks the students laugh, but all too soon, they are typing furiously with single minded purpose – to get the next block.We have a little ceremony every time someone gets a block, clapping them as they walk up to write their name on the board.The days Rachel was able to write 10,000 words were the days she was writing scenes she had been ‘dying to write’ – she called these the ‘candy bar scenes’.Days where she found it hard to muster 5000 words a day she was bored with what she was writing: This was a duh moment for me, but it also brought up a troubling new problem. In the fiction world the answer to Rachel’s dilemma was simple – make the boring scenes more interesting!