I finally graduated, so I thought I’d share a few advices that helped me a lot. Nothing groundbreaking but I hope I can help a little.
— Choose a supervisor you trust.
I cannot stress this enough. What a nightmare when your thesis presentation comes around and your teacher accuses you of being a radical feminist… When the subject they had accepted to supervise you on, has been tackled through a feminist lens all along. You also do not want to have a panic attack every time you have to write to them. Find someone who fit for your subject in their own researches but who also is genuinely interested and invested. I’d even add to maybe check your university courses to pick where to do your master’s degree…
— Beware of obscure subjects.
I’m not saying it’s not an awesome idea, to work on a forgotten author in a less studied period… But as a master’s student, you will need to rely more on secondary texts than on your own conclusions in your thesis (in France at least)… If your primary sources are less studied, it will be considerably harder for you. Pay attention to the amount of researches available.
This goes for the exact opposite too. Some subjects have been written on again and again and again. Coming up with a new perspective / angle might be difficult. It is something to be mindful of.
Improve your writing
— Read more.
Easy to say and yet, it is truly the key. The more comfortable you are with the subject you are focusing on, the easier it will be for you to vulgarise it, explain it and convey information smoothly.
Reading beyond your literary corpus also means that you will have materials for your thesis presentation, it shows your commitment to the subject beyond the academic requirements.
Your jury may not have read your source materials. They don’t always have time to be thorough with every student’s work. Explain, introduce but don’t be repetitive.
It is a given for spelling mishaps and word omissions, of course. But give yourself time between your writing sessions and rereading ones before handing in your work, you need to focus on the form, not on the content to be able to see where your sentences are too long, too wordy/complicated… or just not making sense. Planning these rereading sessions can change the reading experience of your supervisor and make you obtain a more positive feedback.
A reward system to fight off procrastination
Yes, I am a child, having to use tricks to get my brain to stop making me feel stuck. Rewards systems work for me. It went something like:
If you finish this subpart, you’ll get to watch the new RUN BTS episode.
If we finish this part this week, this weekend, you get to buy a book.
On days, where stress was too overwhelming, I’d put piano or instrumentals of my favourite songs (so my brain thinks we are having fun) and at least try to do some reading with annotations, if writing is too difficult.
If everything is too hard, I’d just reread what I had already done. It usually gave me a push and an urge to complete my work.
When all fail, it might mean that a discussion with your supervisor is necessary, as well as a re-evaluation of your outline.
To you who is reading this and going through this stressful period, I wish you all the best,
I hope you are proud of what you are accomplishing 🖤