Skip to Main Content

Humak's Thesis Manual, Bachelor's degree

Overcoming writing problems

Writing problems are quite common. Excessive self-criticism can prevent the process from even getting started, fear of failure may paralyse the student, and fear of mediocrity may encourage the student to polish the text indefinitely. Try not to be too harsh on yourself in the early stages of writing: the final version will only contain a fraction of the first drafts. Remember that when it comes to writing, quantity is more important than quality to get you going. Even vague observations and considerations are best put-on paper, rather than endlessly turning them over in your mind. Even just one page of text is much more than a blank page with the word Introduction typed at the top. Fear of failure can be reversed into pursuit of success, and respect for the set schedule sets a clear deadline for polishing. 

A good way to get started is to draw concept maps, listing the items in each chapter on paper, or writing them on Post-it notes. You should decide in advance when and how long to write. It is a good idea to mark the time reserved for writing on your calendar – and to stick to that decision. One good way to get going with writing is to start by reading and editing the text written the last time. You should only stop writing when you have an idea about what to write in your next session. 

There are many myths associated with writing. It is often said that writing requires long, completely peaceful moments. Preferably, writing would only take place when you are alone, in a quiet cabin in the middle of wilderness, in the early hours of the morning, and in a particularly creative state. It is best to simply let go of such myths. Leading writing experts say that sometimes just getting twenty minutes of writing done in the middle of every-day noise and business is a good goal. You can start by laying your fingers on the keyboard without having to necessarily feel like you have anything special to say. An experienced supervising teacher will appreciate an abundance of text, never mind the quality, in the early stages of the process. 

What if there simply is not enough text or the thesis seems too short? It is never a good idea to try to artificially inflate a concise text with adding text that has no content. The right way to expand the text is to compare, apply, combine, analyse and present arguments for and against your statements or results. This will keep the text concise and deepen processing and understanding of the topic.