PhD Survival Guide: How to write about a complicated theory/ idea

Break it up into small time periods- Reading about theories can be draining. I often break up my day so that I only work on this task for 30 minutes at a time throughout the day. You will often be more productive during short time periods.

Just write, even if it is terrible! Sometimes writer’s block can be caused by perfectionism. You want a sentence that you are damn proud of, so you spend 20 minutes thinking about how to start it. I find that for first drafts it is better to have non-eloquent words than no words. You can perfect them in later drafts.

Go Old School– I often struggle with turning my word vomit (in typed form) into paragraphs that are well-structured, concise, and easy to understand. So I often print out my shambles of a paragraph and edit it by hand. Sometimes I even rewrite sections with a pen!

Sleep on it- Sometimes all you can do is put down your writing and go to sleep. When your brain gets fuzzy and your eyes blurry there is no point sitting at your computer and wasting time. Go to sleep. Wake up feeling refreshed and look at your paragraph with fresh eyes.

Talk to someone else about the theory- We get so consumed with reading and writing about theories that we often think our paragraphs make perfect sense, when in fact no one else would understand them. I find talking to someone about the theory and explaining it to them is a great way to ensure that you understand the theory correctly and know the important aspects you need to include so everyone else can understand it too. So, pick a poor person and talk their ears off. Maybe, also shout them a wine.

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