‘I found [writing thesis conclusion] really difficult. I think I’m still struggling to make that final decision on the conclusion and want to discuss everything I found and did as well as all the issues I had. Hopefully, acknowledging that will help’.
‘I did not expect the group feedback sessions to be as helpful as they were, which was a nice surprise. I … was delighted with this and found [it was] a safe, supportive environment. The recognition of the challenges many of us are currently facing while writing up our theses (caring responsibilities, etc.) was particularly helpful at this time’.
I never shared my work so happily as I did during the course with you and the other colleagues. The environment was supportive and great from the start. I’m already more open to sending work which isn’t perfect, whatever that means.
Having prompts and precise tasks helps enormously. In one of the last supervisions, my supervisor asked me what I thought my contribution was, and I couldn’t formulate one sentence. Last Wednesday, I wrote 613 words in an hour.
‘I did send [my supervisors] some of my writing, the chapter summary, but I don’t think they read it to be honest. However, I also have a new additional supervisor and it was very helpful for me to have some of those pieces of writing to send to her. As part of the writing I changed from two findings chapters to three and they seemed happy with this. It has given me a lot more clarity in terms of moving forward and owning what I am doing and feeling confident in this. I also shared it with a colleague of mine who acts as a voluntary supervisor and who has read some of my other work and she had a much better understanding of where I am going when she read my conclusion chapter and felt she could see great improvement from what she read. I will send them pieces bit by bit, like the abstract etc. and it is great to have drafts of these bits ready to go now’.
The retreats, including the Thesis Endgame course have been integral to my research and to the achievement of my PhD. I am very grateful to you and to all those that attend the writing sessions for sharing their time, experiences, knowledge and expertise so generously and hope to continue to be a part of this wonderful writing community.
You made us feel like having the right tools (and applying them) is the only thing to get us over the finish line.
‘I met my supervisor last week and she found the summary and chapter outlines very helpful and we were able to agree a final draft submission date’.
‘I found [writing chapter introductions] quite tough because it forced me to make a lot of decisions that were probably long overdue to be made. As a result, I feel much better about my thesis planning now!’
I enjoy how you structure sessions and reassure the participants that a focused hour can be more productive than a day of faffing around.
‘I had my supervisors meeting yesterday to receive feedback on everything I’d written and revised through the Thesis Endgame course, and I was quite frankly gobsmacked at how positive their feedback was! I wouldn’t consider myself a natural or keen writer, so I found the course incredibly helpful, and it has really motivated me onto the next steps’.
You facilitated a workshop many years ago at my university, and this was very transformative for me. One of the reasons was that you encouraged freewriting. This enabled me to revisit how, as a child, I had learned to physically write what I was thinking by putting pen to paper. I find handwriting very liberating, as the barrier of the machine (computer) can often reduce the flow of my cognition as I get distracted with formatting etc. You validated and legitimised this approach, and it has been a saviour when I get stuck in some tasks.
Bluebells image by permission of Andy Belshaw. Logo by Rosanne Strachan
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