Drop and give me 20,000 words! Thesis Boot Camp at Royal Holloway (Dr. Laura Christie)
Earlier this summer, as part of the Researcher Development Programme, 30 Royal Holloway Doctoral students battled through a weekend of Thesis Boot Camp with Dr. Peta Freestone. The boot camp provides a space for students to sit and is dedicated solely to getting words down on paper (or a computer screen). The programme is designed to help late-stage doctoral students get over that final hurdle or to kick-start their writing progress if it has stalled.
The weekend started with motivational talks including one from Associate Dean of the Doctoral School, Prof. Barry Langford, followed by goal setting and strategies for getting the words down. The weekend seeks to help writer’s block, third year blues and thesis fatigue to enable students to achieve significant progress on their manuscript.
Peta and I were on hand to provide support and advice and all catering was provided to ensure an encouraging, distraction-free environment. Over 200,000 words were written between the participants with two students writing over 20,000 each. Students managed to complete chapters that had stalled and we had one student complete a full draft by the end of the weekend. By the end, students said they had developed a different relationship to writing, and the distraction and community atmosphere were very motivating. Some students even suggested we run it every three months. We will aim to run one every year and hope future Doctoral students will benefit from the weekend.