Whether you’re a student writing a thesis or a university professor completing a book/paper/grant proposal, the writing-up process can be overwhelming. Do you feel like you can’t make any more improvements, you’re sick of reading and re-reading, and wonder whether it will ever get done? Well, here are three tips to help you get that dreaded manuscript finished once and for all.
Academic Writing Tip 1. Set a date
Obviously, the time you take to complete a manuscript depends on your other commitments. For example, if you’re working on a part-time doctorate, it’s going to take longer than someone on a full-time program. If you’re a researcher working on one project, you’ll have more time for publications than a professor with a lot of teaching responsibilities. Be that as it may, there’s a point when you simply have to say, “enough is enough,” or you could end up working on your manuscript for, literally, years. The bottom line here is that it’s essential to have a personal deadline if you are serious about completing your manuscript (e.g. I am going to finish the thesis/book/paper/proposal by x date). Moreover, you need to make a timetable to correspond with your deadline.
Academic Writing Tip 2. Stop being a perfectionist
Perfectionism in academic writing can be crippling. When I was doing my PhD, I always remember the words of a professor at a research methods workshop: “Aim for a pass, that’s all you need.” At the end of the day, your manuscript is never going to be perfect; there is always something you can do to improve it. You simply need to get to the point where you’re confident that it’s an acceptable academic publication, comparable to others in your field; that’s your key aim.
Academic Writing Tip 3. Get others to review it
Another pair of eyes (preferably several) can be invaluable in terms of spotting errors, identifying areas where clarification may be needed, or where there are gaps in pertinent information. Whether it’s a mentor, a colleague, a fellow student, or an academic editor, this additional feedback can really help in finalizing your document!