Lady Scientist is the pseudonym of Amanda, a (hopefully) soon-to-be finished biochemistry graduate student. Growing up in a smallish, southernish town she struggles to prove that you can be both a lady and scientist. Follow her adventures as she navigates her two-body problem, science, and life.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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I feel your pain. I second the idea that you need to just go with the idea that you're writing a crappy draft and then start worrying about making it sound pretty once you have a complete draft. And besides, your advisor and anyone else who edits your dissertation may want you to move sections around to make things clearer to them - remember we who write the damned thing know what's going on better than anyone else - so while the meaning and flow might be clear to you as the writer, someone reading it with an outside perspective might disagree.
um, I guess I'm saying try not to obsess about it
Apparently the best way to write is to get it all out on paper and then edit it. I have the same problem that you have though, which is consistently going back to it and trying to "improve it".
Not particularly comforting but it is not read by millions of people so it doesn't really have to be a masterpiece!
I'm a big fan of getting it on paper and then letting someone else look at it. That way you aren't a week out from your deadline and figuring out that a section only makes sense in your head.
Join me in the #NaNoWriMo experience - sure it is for writing a novel but you could use your thesis. I like one of their tips: visualize your inner editor and then send him/her away for a month.
if you want to join me, I'm signed up as genegeek. I can be found here but their site is very slow today.
Good luck with the thesis writing. Once I realized that only 7 people would ever read my thesis, I wrote much faster. Although I think the first 5 or 6 pages are probably a true masterpiece... they took me as long as the following 3 chapters.
I was totally the opposite. I absolutely loved writing my dissertation. For me the struggle was those years of bench-work, troubleshooting, and repetitive experiments. I was sad when my dissertation was completed. It took two more years of experimentations before I got the data I needed to start writing again as a postdoc.
I think it is a shame that students are not encouraged to peer mentor one another in writing process. I learnt a lot as a new student from reading and commenting on my labmate’s dissertation. I learnt a bit of science and I began developing a sense of what was expected of me. He got an insight into what parts he had not explained effectively. You know what you are trying to get across, but it takes an outsider to point out that they are confused before you realize a particular paragraph is not as clear as you thought.
However, when it came to persuading fellow students to read my draft dissertation they acted like they were doing me a huge favor! Yet now I suspect those who were not interested are complaining that they are clueless as to what is expected of them or how their own dissertation should be taking shape!
However much you think you are struggling just remember that your mentor is not going to let you fail now. Ask for help and advice if you need it. I put a lot into mine because it was a labor of love, but your dissertation really does not need to be a masterpiece – just readable.
Sometimes, we learn things the hard way! Just like writing, if we haven't tried writing dissertations or thesis the hard way we wouldn't know how difficult it is. Good thing, readers who haven't tried it, is now informed the things they should know upon starting.