Motivational thread


Hi all, just thought it might be nice to have a place for people to share some tips on how to stay motivated during their research/writing/any point of their PhD journey (totally not because I am in a slump right now... or maybe...) sorry if a similar thread like this has already been posted before! But what are some of the things that have worked for you in the past? Or haven't? Any tips and tricks to keep going when things seem bleak? Things that have worked for me: reading/writing about writing, watching interviews with writers reflecting on their own processes/experiences, sketching out future research projects that I can get excited about, organising something to look forward to regardless of whether I've met a task, planning my day to regain a sense of control over the workload, and allowing myself to make mistakes and be OK with it. Pls feel free to add yours!


Hi alyons,
Thanks for posting this. It is the perfect thread for me right now !
Yesterday I was in a major slump and downloaded yet another book on writing called Finish Your Dissertation Once and For All. I set my alarm for 5.30am this morning to read some of it before starting writing at 8am.
I have managed to write more words today. It is unlikely that these words will be in my thesis but at least the thoughts are out of my head and on to paper.
Like you I read lots about writing and watch videos. This tends to happen when I am really stuck and I love a motivational ted talk.
I try to cope with the delayed gratification of the doctoral process by enjoying the immediate sweaty gratification of a gym session most days. I look forward to legitimately not writing during that time and tbh it is probably one of the few times I don't feel guilty about focusing on something other than my thesis.
I go back to my data and remind myself how generous my participants were and the struggles they have had to overcome.
I try to tell myself I can do this and that imposter syndrome will not defeat me.
I follow Hugh Kearns and other writing/ PhD posters on twitter and save motivational quotes to my phone.
I try to find ways to believe in myself the way I would believe in a friend struggling in a similar way.
Motivation varies day by day and I try to accept this.
Good luck with your writing, K


This is such a great list! Thanks for sharing kmcmahon, especially the bit about self-compassion. And I too love a great ted talk - just watched one by Mel Robbins the other day (although the 5 second rule did not work for getting me out of bed this morning). Best of luck, hope inspiration strikes very soon.


I shared the 5 second rule with my first year class and some of them managed to do it for 1 day !!!


One of the books that helped me to get out my second year slump was called ‘write your thesis 5 minutes every day’ or something. The idea is to set yourself a target, say, 300 words a day at least. The thing with writing is, its difficult to get started, but once you have something on paper its much easier to revise it and make it better. So the 300 words end up becoming a 1000 once you get throught it.

For me the key to writing is to find out what theoretical points I have to tackle - then the actual writing part is ok once I figure out what needs to be addressed. I like to tackle one point every day, after thinking about it during the day. So its like washing the dishes in a way, The process of methodically tidying up things one by one until theres nothing left.

The problem for me is alway finding out the ‘headings’ for every point. It takes a bit of reading around the topic to finally decide an approach.


So its like washing the dishes in a way

Now I have another reason to hate doing the dishes! I like the bit by bit approach as it makes things way less overwhelming. What I struggle the most with revisions is not coming back to it with a "God I hate this rubbish" mindset. Often find I rewrite a lot of it, or scrap large bits to add in stuff that have come up from recent readings. Hard to do though when you're supposed to be working towards a final draft!

Quote From kmcmahon:
I shared the 5 second rule with my first year class and some of them managed to do it for 1 day !!!

Haha I admire them for their effort to even try. Jeez!


Yay what a great thread. I'm in the process of drafting my first year report/transition report/upgrade report, definitely need motivating!


What is a "ted talk" ? I need as much motivational help as I can get lol.