If you’ve never written a dissertation before, I’m going to save you some time and heartache by giving you the most honest hints and tips you’re going to get anywhere.
First, Never Write Your Introduction First
A dissertation is a process of discovery. And you know how everyone tells you you’ll change your major at least twice during your undergraduate studies, and you didn’t believe them—then changed your major anyway? Well, a dissertation is like that. As you’re researching it, your topic of focus will change and evolve slightly as you learn about studies recently conducted or find new research that will change your topic or refocus it slightly. Therefore, you do not want to nail yourself down to your topic in a prefatory chapter. Plus, the introduction will discuss every chapter in some way, revealing, after a general discuss of your overall topic, what you are arguing within each chapter and the research and other details. You will not have enough to say here until you have written all your chapters.
Even Before the Research, First, Make a Working Outline
Making an outline will enable you to strategize your areas of research for each chapter. Let’s say you were writing a dissertation on the sexuality in Shakespeare’s Henry V and Henry the VI plays—you could have a chapter for each of the four plays, an introduction and a conclusion. Then, pick the play you know the best and start writing and researching about that one. This strategy will empower you in all kinds of ways—it will reassure you that yes, I can do this! And it will get the work done quickly.
To Avoid Burnout—Give Yourself One Year to Write Your Dissertation
If you give yourself a year to write your dissertation, you will have worked in necessary breaks. There are always those times when you are burnt out and simply cannot face that energy-draining blue light of the screen anymore. Giving yourself a year will cover those times of burn out, and still allow you to turn the work in on time. However, most students take longer than a year to write their dissertations. And often, it’s not because of them! Keep in mind you have a whole committee reading your chapters and giving you feedback as well and they are busy professors who must make time for their doctoral students’ projects as well as their heavy course loads.
The best advice I can give you