Thesis boot camp

Can you imagine writing 20,000 words within 2 and a half days?

Not just some words.
20,000 words that constitutes about a chapter or two of your dissertation!

I signed up for the challenge the moment I saw the call for application for the thesis boot camp to be held at Curtin Uni. The sound of a thesis boot camp intrigued me. The thought that the 2.5 days of the camp will get 20,000 words out of me was very appealing.

As it is I have been sprinting through 8 dedicated weeks of getting a very-final-version of chapters of my thesis out every fortnight, with another 4 dedicated weeks pending to reach that complete first draft.

Four chapters in a near-ready state already done, each of them ranging from 10,000 to 18,000 words. These are chapters that I have already  worked on over the last couple of years – and had about 30-50% of the work on each already done. What this means is over the last few weeks of dedicated time, I was getting on average 5,000 words per week. So how in the world will I get 20,000 words in less than 3 days?

I took it upon myself as a challenge and a learning opportunity, also a last ditch at feeling part of a student community. I set my target to do 15,000 words, and this was for the not yet written discussion and conclusion chapters. And that would complete my complete draft so the question of 20,000 words does not arise.

As the name indicates, boot camp, is serious business. There are preparations for it. We were sent instructions 2 weeks before the camp on getting a road-map of our goals on paper. A week after that, further instructions and readings followed. The energy level was high.

So here I am completing the 3rd day of thesis boot camp. At the end of the first day (which in fact was half a day and less time on actual writing and more on group briefings), I had just a little over a 1000 words written. At that point, I felt pessimistic about reaching my goal of 15,000. Was asking myself how is that even possible. Let alone reaching 20,000 as the ad for the thesis camp claims.

The second day I started with a target of at least breaking the 5,000 mark and had no other grand hopes. And I did it! 🙂
I also was completely drained of energy and decided that was it – my concentration started drifting.

In the afternoon we had the scheduled group yoga session where all our muscles and bones were twisted in this or that angle. Quite surprisingly (as I wasn’t expecting it), the time after the yoga session was a breeze and words started to flow.

Mid-day second day, I reached the 10,000 mark – and yes! you guessed right. That blue block was the reward. By lunch time I had nailed 12,000 words and was completely and utterly exhausted. Of course was feeling good about it. But still was completely drained, and yet by this time also optimistic I can now reach 15,000.

I reached my goal by 5pm and my body and mind succumbed to being content with that. Two from the 40 or so boot campers have reached the epic 20,000 words. All I know is I have done my best and can’t do any more words.

Here I am writing this blog post during thesis boot camp – just because I’m exhausted of writing the thesis draft. I can still write words. I can continue and write nonsensically long emails to dear people or even can rant on my blog  endlessly. Even now, I am not tired of writing. I am just tired of putting my mind into the space of the thesis. Perhaps I have defeated the purposes of the boot camp in these last couple of hours by letting my concentration wane off. 😀
But still I’ve met my target – so I guess I’m alright.

I am glad I participated 🙂

This is the first time during my research journey here, I have felt the energy and vibe I would like to see in our research hub. More of this environment is required for productivity and also to take away the feeling of isolation.


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I write as I think. I think as I write.

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