Writer's block can hit during any stage of your education or career: college, graduate school, postdoc, and professional life. Even seasoned writers experience blocks occasionally. The worst part about writer's blocks, is that they tend to hit you right when you are trying to meet a deadline. So, what can you do to get words on the paper, which eventually will turn into a polished manuscript? Here are a few suggestions and resources:
1. First, try to summarize your paper (or dissertation) in one sentence. This is called the thesis statement. For example, "The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of ...." The thesis sentence will help you to become more focused.
2. Build your arguments up gradually. Do not expect yourself to produce an elaborate manuscript overnight. Get the core of your paper done first (methods,data analysis, figures) and then write the supporting sections (introduction, discussion). The abstract is usually completed last.
3. Write every day, preferably same time and place. Aim for at least 2 pages a day.
4. If you are out of ideas, just write whatever comes to mind. Ideas are born through writing, and if you stick to a two page a day goal, you will probably put some great ideas on paper.
5. Keep a little notepad nearby to write down distracting ideas/to-do's that come to you head while writing. Do not act on them until you finish your daily writing quota.
6. Ask someone to revise your manuscript periodically. For example, your advisor, a friend, spouse, or a writing/thesis support group. Set up some milestones, such as "I want my advisor to read my first draft by August 1st". This will motivate you to get your paper done on time.
For more ideas, here are a few books and resources:
Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis by Joan Bolker
Writing the Doctoral Dissertation by Gordon Davis
Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process by Kjell Erik Rudestam.
This page has several links to other sites with dissertation writing advice.
Wishing you the best,
Dora Farkas, PhD, Founder, PhDNet