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Best Dissertation Writing Tips: Should You Write A Little Each Day or Choose a Few Days Per Week?


Writing a dissertation is often a completely new experience for graduate students that have become accustomed to the systems they encountered through their earlier lives as college students. Reading assignments, papers, tests, and lab work are all tasks that may not seem all that different from undergraduate course work. But a dissertation is foreign – a new kind of academic project that marks the transition from student to scholar.

Effective time management will alleviate a lot of stress that come from being in grad school and in writing your dissertation. The trick is finding out what time management style works best for you. Ideally, you want to start your research as early as possible to give yourself plenty of time to write and revise your work. Going a step further you want to identify whether writing a little each day or choosing two or three days to devote to writing works best. Generally, most experts agree that writing a little each day is the best way to go. Here are a few reasons why:

    You won’t become overwhelmed by the large task at hand. You may already be familiar with the benefits that come from accomplishing small tasks throughout larger projects. If you break up your writing into several small tasks – writing five or seven times a week – you will find yourself enjoying the psychological boosts that come from checking off another accomplishment. Set your small goals accordingly. Choose to write for two hours, 5 pages, or for however you want to tackle your dissertation beforehand and do your best to stick to your goals.

    You can plan to write during your best writing times. If you’ve ever looked at a few writing guides then you’re likely to have come upon differing opinions on when the best time to write is. Some writers prefer working late at night, others can write in the middle of the day when they’re surrounded by the most noise, and a select group can get out of bed at 4:00 A.M to get their best work done. No matter what times work best for you, writing each day can help you take advantage of your peak writing period. This is a luxury you wouldn’t have if you commit to writing for seven or eight hours at a time.

    You leave yourself some wiggle room for unexpected conflicts. Even if you’ve kept to your schedule perfectly, there’s always a chance that some unexpected circumstance will pry you away from the keyboard. Setting daily writing goals give you the leniency to move your schedule around so that you can write earlier or later – or even a day later – than the time you had planned. With this wiggle room, however, you need to make sure you don’t quickly make excuses and stray too far from your schedule.

    You will ensure that you stay on top of other aspects of your life. Writing a dissertation is already stressful enough as it is, and spending seven or eight hours in front of a computer screen can negatively affect other parts of your life and add to this stress. Sleeping, eating, even zoning-out in front of the television are all key factors in maintaining a clear and level-headed mind. Short, daily writing goals give you the time and mental capacity to enjoy and stay on top of other parts of your life so that you can return to your writing without a hundred different things clamoring for your attention.

    Writing a dissertation will develop skills you will use throughout your career. Unlike your previous academic work, your dissertation may become the foundation of your future research, or provide the basis for new research articles published in the years to come. It might seem a little silly but a lot of time management and strategy towards writing your dissertation comes from simply having the will to write it. Start early and devote adequate time to make sure your final work is just what you had imagined and planned. You’ve come this far, don’t look back and keep your eyes on the prize.

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