blogging as practice for thesis writing…

I’ve been telling all of the students around me that they should try their hand at blogging – in fact, I’ve been telling everyone around me that blogging is definitely something you should try if you have a chance. I know that not everyone has a lot to say, but that it’s a great habit to be in. It’s a great way to practice organized writing (without 140 character limits), putting your views out where others can see it, defending your ideas and, of course, it’s great practice at organizing your thoughts. In other words, it’s a microcosm of your final 6-9 months of your graduate studies.

Indeed, I had no idea how much that advice was actually worth till I sat down yesterday afternoon, and started writing out some parts of my thesis. (Yes, I’m now actually writing my thesis!) The brilliant thing was, after spending so much time writing on my blog, the thesis seems SO much easier than the ones I’ve done in the past. (This is actually my 4th thesis.) The text just flowed, which makes the whole process rather fun.. (Yes, thesis and fun in one sentence!)

When I sat down and organized my thoughts on a subject, things just came together and I knew what I wanted to say and how to say it, which I can only ascribe to the endless practice of writing on my blog. Yes, the style is a bit different and less reflective, but other than minor stylistic changes, the process is almost identical.

So, for anyone who’s going to eventually have to write a thesis, I’ll make a suggestion: start practicing for it by starting a blog, even if no one reads it. Keeping your writing skills in shape is invaluable.

4 thoughts on “blogging as practice for thesis writing…

  1. Anthony,

    This is great advice. Back in olden times (before there was much of an Internet) my advisor had us write bimonthly reports. When it was time for my thesis, I already had a great deal written, and any writer will tell you that getting started is the hardest part. Just like you, I found the thesis writing to be enjoyable.

    I would also add that once you start you need to develop some discipline with respect to frequency. But it pays off. With only bimonthly posts, one can accumulate between 24 and 30 posts over a four to five year period. In addition to writing practice, these posts will show how your thinking evolves over time.

    Good luck with finishing!

    • Thanks – and I really like the idea of bimonthly reports as well. Anything that gets you into the habit of putting pen to paper and going through the motions of writing something is probably a great way to get started.

      As you’ve pointed out, even if you don’t write daily, you can still acquire a huge volume of work over an extended period of time. I’m constantly amazed at how much I’ve written over the course of my PhD – and it really is fun to revisit some of the old posts, now and then.

  2. Hi Anthony, I have been blogging since 2005, and contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t make me any better at writing a thesis, LOL. Coming from a country where English is our second language (it’s mine and some students’ third language), I have received plenty of praises about how well I write and how soon I would be able to finish writing my own thesis.

    But no, like you said, the tones are different. Writing for the general public (on my personal blog as well as the NGO blog) is not the same as writing a thesis or for a scientific community. And to be honest, I prefer writing for the public :D I enjoy spreading knowledge and awareness to the public and I enjoy fielding questions from them.

    • That’s an interesting perspective on writing – thanks for sharing it! Yes, there is a big difference in tone, but the biggest hurdle for me with a thesis has always been organizing and making my points clear, something I have been able to practice quite a bit while blogging.

      If I can ask, what is the greatest obstacle you find yourself facing when you’re writing? Clearly, it isn’t language!

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