As university students, most of us have to submit academic papers at some point and all of us experience some form of struggle in the writing process. During the ongoing pandemic with its necessary restrictions you might have felt less intrinsically motivated to write- I certainly did. Therefore, I actively tried to find new strategies to continue writing on my MA thesis. In the following, I will present those that helped me to progress in my writing.
Set up goals- and commit to them!
For long (really long) papers such as the MA thesis, it is very important to set up daily or even weekly goals. In the beginning of my writing process, I tried to read for about 4-5 h a day and took notes. At the end of the week, I knew I had done enough work, which helped me to maintain a clear mind and conscience. Writing over an extended period of time requires strong resilience, therefore I would advise not to set your goals too high — otherwise you might feel disappointed, which then leads to decreased levels of motivation. Likewise, don’t set your goals too low because in the long-term, you might feel the need to see actual progress.
Change your writing environment
Admittedly, this aspect was difficult or even impossible to manage during the lockdown. I started writing my MA thesis in the beginning of April and therefore had to work from home. Living in a studio apartment certainly didn’t help either. As some restrictions were gradually removed, I tried to switch my workspace on some days. I started by working in a local café on days where I couldn’t find any motivation to work from home. Once the university libraries re-opened, I also booked time slots to work there. Despite the very limited time that we were allowed to work in the library due to COVID-19, I realised that a change of scenery had a positive impact on my concentration ability.
FIND A WRITING BUDDY
I cannot stress this enough. For me it was rather luck, coincidence or both that a fellow student at my university started writing her MA thesis around the same time as me. During the lockdown, we obviously did not work together. However, once we were officially allowed to do so, we met up everyday at 9 am (yes) in her apartment to work on our research. Both of us benefited incredibly from this working experience as we could discuss possible questions or ideas and motivated each other to keep going. I was so much more concentrated and willing to work with my buddy than I had been at home. Further, I could see my writing progress more quickly. On most days, we worked from 9am- 6 pm during the weekdays and took the week-ends off. Taking some time off is also really important because it helps you to gain new energy and motivation!
I hope that the mentioned strategies might help you to work on your paper as well. Do you have any other methods that you apply in your own writing process?