As long as it takes?


I'm interested to know whether other people find that writing just takes as long as it takes, i.e. you sit down to write something, you struggle with it, you draft, you refine and the time you take is dependent on how tough a section it is.
Or whether you can somehow make yourself write faster even on the tough bits. I find this nigh on impossible. I can't write a page of vaguely relevant cr*p to meet a deadline, nor can I work all hours of the day and night (with the very occasional exception) just to get something done. I feel like I need space and time when working on something really difficult.
Trouble is, that just isn't an option when you are writing up to deadlines.
At the moment I'm just letting the whole schedule slide because I know I can write what I need to but I don't believe I can do it as quickly as my writing-up schedule calls for. But maybe I'm just not being tough enough on myself?
How do you make yourself write? And how do you measure the success of your writing? Is it better to take three weeks and have something pretty much good to go subject to some comments, or is it better to take one week, produce something less good but then at least have something to work with when you go through the thesis again doing final rewrites?


Hi Florence, this is really interesting for me because I'm really up against a deadline now, on something I feel I have been writing for months (MSc dissertation). I just want to get it done now, it is in for Monday, but I am still enjoying writing it despite the increasing stress and panic! I am finding the project quite difficult as it is entirely theoretical so quite heavy.

I like to work to a schedule and set myself targets, generally about 1000 words a day. I generally get this and sometimes exceed this, basically it ensures that I am being productive enough and I make sure that they are concise as well without too much rambling. When I begin something I free-write first then add detail and references later when I am confident. This is probably a really bad thing to do as well, but I don't always follow a clear structure when I start something, that tends to come later with me when I am more confident about what I am actually writing.

I generally send something to my supervisor for comments when I am about 1/2 way through and most of the strucure and content is in place, to me if he is pleased with it then it is generally correct, and it is early enough for me to act on his comments because I am still developing it. I then send it to another staff member who is proofreading for me when it is a bit more complete; he comments more on my writing style which is fortunately ok at the moment.

Before writing I always read something relevant for at least 45 minutes as that inspires me and makes me feel a bit more confident about my arguments. I follow a little routine as well as I'm not one of those people who can sit in their PJs all day and write - I have to have done the little tasks I need to do like hoovering, online banking etc, had a shower and done makeup etc, then make a coffee and start writing. I am more of an evening worker as well but that is just me, I try to stop by 11pm though as I have to be up early in the mornings for my horse.

I do think I need a bit of pressure to write as well, otherwise I feel slightly scared and reluctant to start something. I try not to be too much of a last-minute worker though, I don't like staying up too late.

I hope this helps in some way and good luck, sorry if I'e rambled on a bit! I start my PhD in January so interested to hear other people's responses.