Even in first year, the prospect of writing a dissertation is imminent. Now you’re in third year. Maybe you’re nervous, petrified, or excited about writing 10,000 words. It’s natural to have a mix of emotions when undertaking such an important piece of work, but a dissertation can become a breeding ground for perfectionism. Here’s a few tips to help you break out of that perfectionist cycle whilst writing your dissertation.
Don’t edit until absolutely necessary!
After days of researching, hours of thinking, and minutes writing, it can be too tempting to start editing what you’ve already written. And, if you’re aiming for a high grade, you’ll be conscious of perfecting your grammar and punctuation. Obviously, you don’t want to be editing your dissertation at the last-minute, but it is important to make sure it is productive. Set goals for yourself. Tell yourself you aren’t going to edit a chapter until you have completed the next one. Sometimes too much editing can decrease the quality of your work (I’m sure every undergrad has been there!)
Don’t spend too long researching
There’s no doubt that researching for your dissertation will take up a lot of your time. However, it is impossible to read absolutely everything about your topic. If you did, the dissertation would never get written! Research can also be a form of procrastination – the brain’s way of putting off doing the work. To break this, go back to the goals/aims in your proposal. Break it down into topics and subsections.
The dissertation is probably the largest project you have undertaken thus far. You will end up living and breathing it. You might think that it’s best to get the whole thing over with in one go, but that is counterproductive. As before, set realistic goals for yourself. Make sure to give yourself breaks (both big and small) The general thesis of your dissertation will be changing all of the time, so having time away from the work is actually a positive thing. When the brain is at rest is when the ideas start piling in. You never know, you might end up surprising yourself!