You don’t have to feel ready to take action

One of the biggest challenges for many people starting to write, or to speak in public, or to take an exam (or to do anything that is important) is they ‘don’t feel ready’. At Thesis Boot Camp, we tell people to write anyway, because the research, and experience, says that waiting to feel ready is a quick route to not writing.

It can be too early to write, absolutely. You need to do a basic amount of reading, thinking, understanding. But then moving into the writing is how you grapple with the ideas and how you start shaping them into academic prose, the medium your research needs to be in to be acceptable as a thesis.

And the first draft of writing is unlikely to be ready for other people to read. Starting to write is not about producing publishable documents, it’s about producing a first draft.

And starting to write doesn’t mean we stop thinking, reading, understanding. We keep reading, but now in response to our emerging chapter. We keep researching, but now in response to the limitations of our current draft. We think as we revise, or revise after taking time to be critical and think.

All of this works because we start doing the work. By not delaying the real work through endless reading and procrastination, we start working towards our end goal, in ways that actually contribute to our goals. That is, we start making words on the page that can be added to and refined until you have enough good enough words to submit a passable PhD thesis.

The same is true for every aspect of our lives. If you have been reading and listening to voices around Black Lives Matter, Indigenous voices, trans voices — great! But also, you can start acting on what you’ve learned. It might be a first draft of actions, something that can be revised and improved before you share it with an audience. But do not wait to feel ready to do the work. Start acting in line with your beliefs and improved understanding. Keep turning the dial towards your values.

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