Small successes

For the past two months I’ve been in thesis-writing mode. Back in December I set myself the goal of finishing the first draft of my thesis by the end of March, and I told myself that it didn’t matter if the draft was quick-and-dirty, since I’ll have many more drafts before I’m done. However, I’ve found that it does matter: there are days when I’m completely stumped in a paragraph, and though I could just skip it and get back to it later, I feel I can’t. It’s not that I want it to be perfect (I know it won’t be) but that I’m building the argument piece by piece, and I need to settle each point, in paper as well as in my mind, before proceeding.

About two weeks ago I started writing The Hard Part, and my pace slowed down significantly. I can’t plan The Hard Part as I planned the rest of the thesis: it merges all the threads in the document and I can’t tell how each sentence should be written until I get to it. These are days of alternating bouts of elation and exasperation. Thursday was great because I disentangled myself from several thorny issues and the whole path ahead seemed clear and simple; Friday was awful because I couldn’t get a single sentence out.

So I just wanted to share that I’m learning to appreciate days of small successes. Today I stepped out of Friday’s problems and chipped away a piece of the puzzle. I managed to write a couple of pages. I feel I should’ve written more, but I’ll take what I can.


About Jorge Aranda

I'm currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the SEGAL and CHISEL labs in the Department of Computer Science of the University of Victoria.
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4 Responses to Small successes

  1. Jack says:

    I can totally relate to the first part of your post and wanted to write something encouraging, but when you write a couple pages in a single and still wanted to do more, than I just feel like you play in a totally different league.
    You’re a productive writer and enjoy it, so just keep going and you’ll be famous. 😉

  2. Galax says:

    It is kind of an artist work. Let us say it is like serious oil painting. Some days you do a lot of brushing; some others you just stare at the canvas for hours. Sometimes you want to tear out the painting and change to learning rocket science, that being so much easier. A week later you see it is not that bad, after all.
    You are never quite satisfied with the result. You end the work… and a few days later you add some touches here and there. People come and see and say Woww!, it is nice!. You do not believe them. You know you could better it.
    Finally you say: Enough is enough. Sign the painting, frame it and hang it in the wall.
    One year after that, you are contemplating your masterpiece and find a perspective mistake, a shadow too strong, a… whatever. Then you feel a gust of satisfaction coming from within you. You did a great job! Of course it is not perfect, but it is GREAT!
    You are an artist, Jorge. Develop your thesis… review it… polish it. And, at a given point, frame it and hang it in the wall.
    I am sure people will read it and say: ¡Woww!

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