10 Ways to Make Thesis-writing Easier

A graduate student in the Faculty of Arts shares tips and tricks for confronting writer's block while tackling your thesis.


Writing a thesis is a very difficult, lonely and exhausting process, and sitting down to write every single day can be extremely difficult. I have been working on my thesis for my MA in Classics for three years now; here is my best advice for actually getting down to writing.

Set up your area 

When I sit down to write I light my favourite candle (it's called “Professor,” and reminds me every time I light it what I’m working towards), clean my space if there are books and other distractions around me and light my favourite lamp. I find that by making my space more comfortable, it makes it easier for me to want to be there and therefore actually write. Also, making my space as distraction-free as possible forces me to focus because I have nothing to take my mind away from writing.

Have a notepad next to your computer 

Write down thoughts that pop into your head, things you remember you need to do, and anything else unrelated to your thesis that crosses your mind. This way, you don’t forget about these thoughts, but you can keep writing. I find this really helps me because I tend to remember that I need to book 8 million appointments, email my supervisor, answer student emails and more while writing my thesis, and this way I don't lose focus by turning to another task

Set a specific writing goal 

Setting a detailed goal, no matter how small, is a great way to make writing a thesis less daunting. It can also make it feel less like you’re not accomplishing anything if you have something to work towards each day. This goal can be something like “I will write for an hour today”, “I will write 500 words in total today” or “I will write for 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break,”  whatever works for you that day. Remember that each day is different, so if you can only write 250 words instead of 500 that is totally okay!

Plan out a specific time to write every day  

If possible, set aside the same time every day to write. Having a routine can make it easier to get into the flow of writing. In the same vein, try to schedule writing time around the time of day that you are most productive, rather than the time of day when you want to go take a nap. Knowing when you are most in the mood to write is better than forcing a time and just staring blankly at the screen until your planned writing time is up.

Take breaks 

Sometimes I find that taking a break from writing can help me put to words what is floating around in my brain.

Take AT LEAST one day off a week 

Rest is SO IMPORTANT. I have been guilty of working every single day, but I have realized that when I take a day or two off each week my writing is actually better.

Make other grad student friends to help keep you accountable

Having friends to keep you accountable can be very valuable if you struggle with staying on track. It is also fun to have weekly meetings with them to chat about your successes and failures of the week.

Track your progress

This will help give you an idea of where you started and how far you have come. It’s a good way to remind yourself that you are doing something when writing your thesis becomes difficult. It’s also a great way to track your small wins.

Start your day off with a small "free write"

Write for 15 minutes straight without stopping. This is a trick the grad chair of my department gave my cohort as a way to kickstart our daily writing. It’s a really great way to get into the flow of writing and can help start you off on the right foot for your daily writing!

Remember that not every day is going to be perfectly productive 

Writing one sentence is better than nothing if that is all you can do that day. Be kind to yourself, writing a thesis is very taxing. 


About Laura

Laura is in the third (and hopefully final!) year of her Master's degree studying Classical Languages. She can always be found with her nose in a book. Whether it's academic reading or for pleasure, she will read pretty much anything and she's passionate about languages like Middle Welsh and Ancient Greek. Laura adores animals and fosters the cutest bunny in the world and in her spare time loves to knit socks for her loved ones!