This is a sentence. And this is no longer a blank page. And just like that, I started writing. Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? That is hardly relevant, but if you must know, I am doing this for me, and I am doing this just to exercise the muscles of writing. I’ve just started the process of ending my thesis, or in other, better words, writing up. So I must write.
Writing can be daunting at first, all these white pages, all these thousands of words I need to conjure into pages that not only reflect my work over the past four or five years, but that tell a story and connect all the dots of my research in a meaningful way. But hey, no pressure. So how do I start at all? The easiest is the methods of course, I already have most of them from protocols, previous reports, and posters I managed to create along the way. And of course there is always a bit of useful procrastination, although I keep telling everyone (and mostly myself) that making a template and putting it out there is actually useful for me and perhaps other people as well. Then you move on to analysis, there is always more analysis to do. But at some point you realise you are just avoiding doing the hard bit, which is just starting to write. You also realise that at some point I switched from “I” to “you”. These things happen. And that’s basically why I’ve decided to start the week by setting a timer on 10 minutes and just write whatever crosses my mind. Will this be useful to you? Most certainly not, unless you seek a bit of procrastination. But who knows, maybe reading random thoughts helps you in a mysterious way. Will this be useful to me? It actually already has.
Just like that I wrote a couple of paragraphs, my fingers have had their warm up, and my thoughts are a bit less scattered and the words have started to flow. Of course this will by no means be perfect, but first drafts never are. There are also moments where I find myself pausing and trying to read the previous sentences, trying to find a structure, to make this better just in case someone ends up reading it. But after a few seconds in blank I have to force myself to keep writing. The clock is ticking and there is so much I can write in 10 minutes.
This is the first of what I hope will be a series of exercises that will accompany me during thesis writing. You can find them all in the “Archive of first drafts“. The only goal is to write anything in the span of 10 minutes, with minimal planning and editing. If you read this at all, say hi, writing can be lonely. If you have any tips, experiences, or memories that you feel like sharing or may help fellow writers, drop a comment below or DM me, you never know who can benefit from it.