10 Steps to Finishing a PhD Thesis (or book) in 6 Months
Most academics w ill admit to themselves and students that the majority of dissertations and books are w ritten in a 6 month block of time (the remainder of the post focuses on a PhD process, but it can be easily applied to book w riting). I'm talking here about the WRITING process- not the research, f iguring out the question, organizing the chapters etc (no w izard can do all that in 6 months- at least not this w izard). But once you've done your (f ield) research, reading, thinking through the chapters, taking notes etc. it really should only take you 6 months to f inish the thesis. For PhD students this is referred to as the end of the faff ing about/procrastination/reading gaw ker and people.com daily/existential crisis about the structure of the thesis phase and the start of the "time to suck it up, close the off ice door, shut off the email, and just f#$@king w rite" phase.
So how can one get a complete draf t of the thesis done in 6 months? Here is the 10-Step Process to Completion.
1. Figure out w hat your D-Day is. Look ahead approximately 6 months and determine either w hen you w ould like to submit a full draf t or else acknow ledge w hen you MUST complete (maybe the last date before you have to pay for an extra semester of tuition, maybe your committee members are leaving for sabbatacle af ter a certain date, maybe your partner has threatened to leave if you don't f inish by a particular date, maybe you w ant to f inish before you give birth)- w hatever it is, get the date and highlight it on all your calendars and w rite it up in a threatening font and paste it to your w all (I used the f inal date as my email passw ord so I had to enter it everyday as a reminder….and no, I don't still use the same passw ord).
2. Count back f rom that date and clarify how much time you have lef t. Is it 6 months or slightly more or less? Count the number of w eeks (ie 24), then acknow ledge any potential periods w ithin that time f rame w here you know you w on't be w orking (Holidays, attending a w edding etc). Now you have your total number of w eeks until D-Date.
3. Panic. Yes, coming to terms w ith the fact that you've got 22 w eeks to crack out a thesis before you w ill be faced w ith an extra semester of tuition sucks. Revel in the panic for a day, it w ill ultimately be motivating. Ask yourself how many more times you w ant to get questioned about "still being in school" f rom family members during the holidays, think about how it w ould feel if the student in your tutorials become your grad-student colleagues, calculate w hat your retirement (non)savings plan w ill look like if you are a student for another year- now take that panic and zen-force it into w riting fuel.
4. Set out a w ork plan. Using the 22 w eek example, make a list of each of the chapters that you need to w rite. Start w ith the chapters that you feel most conf ident w ith (ie the ones that may be partially w...