Forcing Yourself to Write
- Write to find out what you know. You always know more than you think you do!
- Use your introduction as a way of organizing the rest of your thesis.
- Create a loose outline or map of where you want to go
The Writing Environment
- Try writing with the screen turned off to force yourself to write without editing.
- Turn off the games in your computer.
- Switch from typing to handwriting.
- Go for walks or get exercise to get oxygen to your brain.
- Pick some non-distracting music and play it only when you are writing (Amazon Music has some great mixes built for studying!)
- Give yourself a reward after you write a certain number of pages (go play video games, go do some retail therapy, etc…)
- Set realistic goals – set a realistic daily writing goal and stick to it.
- Write yourself a letter detailing everything you’ve accomplished thus far; you may be surprised at how much you’ve done, and it’s often gratifying to see it written down.
- Practice self-compassion and not self-criticism. As Wikipedia defines it: “Self compassion
entails being warm towards oneself when encountering pain and personal shortcomings, rather than ignoring them or hurting oneself with self criticism.”
- Be kind to yourself; you are doing great!
- Start anywhere you want – you don’t have to start at the beginning.
- When doing freewriting or “sloppy topic” writing, try to forget spelling, sentence structure, order, and word choice. The objective is to just get something down.
- Eventually ¾ of what you write will get tossed, so don’t fall in love with sentences or paragraphs.
- Change directions. Don’t hold yourself too tightly to your outline, since it may cut down on the possibility for new insights and “a-ha” moments.
- Start with what excites you the most about the thesis.
- Even when you don’t want to write, write anyway.
- Talk about your thesis with everyone.
- Think about your audience—what would pull them into the paper?
- Use ‘action’ verbs (e.g., look at how often you use “is”) and avoid passive voice.
- To avoid the drama/trauma of last-minute writing, schedule lots of buffer time (i.e., schedule your procrastination).
- DO NOT discard anything until your thesis is turned in. Be sure to set up some sort of organizational system so you can find things (maybe dating the drafts)
- Withhold judgment on what you write for a week or so. Right now it may sound unintelligible, but it may actually be good when you read it later
- “Park on a downhill slope” — sketch out in writing what you intent to tackle the next day, and perhaps stop in the middle of a sentence, so you know exactly where to start the next day (Hemingway did this).
Abstract Writing Instructions
What are Abstracts?
An abstract is a concise summary of a larger document – thesis, essay, book, research report, journal publication, etc. – that highlights major points covered in the work, concisely describes the content and scope of the writing, identifies the methodology used, and identifies the findings, conclusions, or intended results.
Why are they important?
Abstracts make it possible for readers to quickly determine the content of a work and decide if the full text should be consulted. They are vital when searching online, since the keywords you search with will be highlighted in the body of the abstract as well as the text. They help others outside your discipline understand the purpose and value of your work.
Qualities of a good abstract:
uses one or more well-developed paragraphs that are coherent, concise, unified, and able to stand alone; presents a work’s purpose, methods, results, and conclusions, ideally in that order; strictly follows the chronology of the work; provides logical connections/transitions between the information included; adds no new information, but simply offers a summary; does not include any evaluation, reviews, or opinions on the research; is understandable to a wide audience
Steps for Writing Effective Abstracts
- Reread or review the research you have completed or are currently working on.
- Look for the following main parts of the work: purpose (thesis), methods, scope, results, conclusions, and recommendations.
- Use the headings, outline heads, and table of contents to guide your abstract writing.
- After you’ve finished rereading your work, write a rough draft without looking back through your work.
- Make the abstract easy to read
- Generally, an abstract is easier to read when the thesis or purpose statement is first, or at least near the beginning of the abstract.
- Use the past tense when describing what was done. However, where appropriate use active verbs rather than passive verbs.
- Use short sentences, but vary sentence structure to avoid choppiness.
- Use complete sentences. Don’t omit articles or other small words to save space.
- Avoid jargon, the specialized vocabulary of a trade or profession.
- Example: The VDTs in composition were down last week.
- Revision: The video display terminals were down last week.
- For science-based work, use scientific names instead of local names.
- Use the same tone and emphasis used in the original.
- Be concise
- Revise the key sentences from your thesis to provide just enough information for the reader.
- Summarize rather than repeating the way information was presented in your thesis. Try using the outline purpose→methods→results→conclusions.
- Avoid repeating information given in the title.
- Give the information only once.
- Use standard abbreviations.
- Be exact and unambiguous.
- Revise your rough draft
- Improve transitions (e.g., “although,” “while,” “however”).
- Drop unnecessary words like a hot potato.
- Fix errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Read it out loud. (This isn’t fun, but it really helps in revising and proofreading.)
- Give your abstract to someone else to read, preferably someone who knows nothing about your topic. Does it make sense to them? If yes, celebrate. If not, keep working.