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Stage 11: Outlining and drafting chapters

For many dissertation writers, this stage - the actual writing of the dissertation - is the most time-consuming and labour-intensive part of the process. Yet, as you produce pages of text, your progress will become tangible to yourself and others.

Before you begin, go to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations website. Download and read the appropriate Word Template Guide. The templates are important in formatting your thesis correctly, and will save you a lot of time when you are compiling your thesis.

Outlining and drafting chapters helps you to:

  • Discover what you want to say
  • Identify what you know already and what you still need to research more
  • Organize your ideas in a logical manner
  • Communicate with others, who can give you advice and feedback
  • Produce the text that will eventually, with revision, make up your dissertation

Step 1: Revisit your work plan

  • See Stage 7 to build in significant time for writing and manageable deadlines (for example, a certain number of pages per day).

Step 2: Write regularly (daily, if possible), to help you strengthen the connection between your thinking and writing process, especially if you are in a field that does not involve much writing.

Step 3: Use brainstorming, inventing, and other pre-writing activities to discover your ideas about your subject and to prevent writer's block.

Step 4: Use outlining and mapping to organize your ideas logically and to write efficient drafts.

Step 5: Remember that drafting is rarely a linear process.

  • Tips for writing
    • Try writing the middle of chapters and sections first, since introductions are often difficult to write when you are not yet sure what the chapter will contain
    • If you reach a block, keep moving forward by tackling another section
  • Resist the temptation to revise during the drafting process, which interrupts your ability to get your ideas down on paper quickly and efficiently (See Stage 13)
  • When you end a writing session, decide where you will start writing in the next session to eliminate the temptation to procrastinate
  • When you've produced text, reward yourself for doing the hard work of putting words to paper