Writing your dissertation is a daunting task, and also one that somewhat creeps upon you. It feels like your degree flew by when you get close to the end. Your dissertation is the home stretch of your degree but also one of the biggest research projects you will ever do. Due to the weight it holds, it is vital that you put your everything into it, or else this could bring down your degree massively.
The first and most important thing is to set a schedule and decide what your purpose will be for your dissertation. Make sure your topic is something that genuinely interests you, maybe something you’re passionate about or want to pursue after your degree, as this will make it that tiny bit easier to write. Deciding on your topic and planning a schedule early on will reduce stress in third year when you’re taking on new modules. I’d recommend utilising the summer before third year to do some reading ad planning in advance.
Setting a healthy schedule means giving yourself deadlines for sections/chapters and working out from there when a good time is to get it done. Working out how many words are required per day could be a really sensible idea. For me, I see a lot of students doing no work or minimal work on the weekends. Although it is important to find downtime, a good friend once reminded me that the weekend makes up almost 30% of your week. When you say it like that, it doesn’t hurt to do an hour of work on a Sunday. In terms of setting deadlines, I often set them for a few days before I actually want it done. This means you’ll have time on your side.
Some find the start of writing dissertations the hardest. Without a flow, it’s hard to kickstart your essay in a way that is riveting. In this scenario, remember your first draft is not your final draft. Everything doesn’t have to be spot on, but getting your arguments displayed clearly with your citations will lead you to a more clean-cut dissertation as you go on.
Another big tip for dissertation writing is to not get bogged down on your introduction and write it last! I know this sounds super backwards but your dissertation will evolve with time, so what you write as an introduction before, may not be quite right when you have finished.
Also, utilising feedback is really important with your dissertation. Your supervisor may only be able to read your first draft, but cling onto their every word in their feedback! You may find they can advise you on a direction or small revisions. Additionally, get your friends to read over it if they can. They may not know a single thing about the topic but having a second pair of eyes can help you seek out any grammatical errors or if you may be repeating yourself in some chapters.
Finally, writing your thesis will feel like a full-time job, so schedule your time effectively. Some find a stroll first thing gets them pumped for the day, and others like a midday get-away when they start to feel sluggish. Listen to your body.