Dear Editors in Chief,
I’m addressing this letter to you today to commend you on the work you’ve accomplished so far and encourage you as you approach your upcoming thesis completion. You might be a writer that edits as they go or you might be a speed writer that tackles their thesis head-on with the almighty red pen after what seems to be a 100-page rant. The point is, all the small changes you make now will make your thesis stronger, more nuanced, and well-rounded to face the harsh academic world.
You might now be at in a place where you feel like you’ve reached the point of insanity. You might be uncontrollably scrolling up and down your Word document unable to find a spot to dig your claws. Or maybe you’re stress eating, or scrubbing the bathtub and every surface in sight clean until your hands are raw, or anything not to look at the Frankenstein you’ve created. Maybe that’s just me… Regardless! I feel your pain. My thesis sometimes feels like my little monster that might turn on me at any point if I don’t baby it every minute of every day.
I’m here to tell you that your Frankenstein is so close to being a full-fledged beast ready for the world. Also know that this high-pressure time will pass and the more you apply yourself now the quicker it will be over. But you also don’t need to spend every waking hour on it. Please don’t. I’ve come close to burnout a couple of times and it’s hard to get back into the groove once you’ve taken too long of a break. I’ve caught myself stuck on the thought that I’m just waiting for inspiration or that I just don’t have the momentum to get going. When I realized that I needed to shift into drive to get that momentum and chip away at my edits little by little, I was able to launch myself out of cocoon mode. Here is a tip on how to get yourself in a productive space; set a timer for 5 minutes and say to yourself that for the next 5 painless minutes you’re going to work on one thing. When 5 minutes doesn’t feel too bad, tackle the next 5 minutes (visit https://intranet.ecu.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/20733/Procrastination.pdf for more tips on how to deal with procrastination).
The editing process is the final stretch of this journey and arguably the most important one, to ensure that you don’t have to do extra leg work once you get revisions from supervisors and reviewers. Editing yourself is one thing, it’s a completely different ball park when someone edits your work especially when it’s somebody you highly respect. When I got to this stage, I learned two great lessons. First, check your ego at the door. When I first got edits from someone else than me, I found myself thinking, “Wow, what am I doing here”, “All my hard work is worthless” “Will I ever be able to finish this?”. I had to stop thinking about poor me and start focusing on the work. Second, identifying mistakes or missing points doesn’t mean you’re dumb, it means that you’ve reached that point where you can see imperfections and recognize shortcomings, and that’s fantastic. For me, it meant that I had achieved a certain level of self-awareness and that I was able promote myself to editor in chief, and see myself not as a victim of the editing process, but as a very active participant in how I shared my work.
To all my fellow editors out there, keep going! Your hard work will pay off soon.
Natasha is currently finalizing her Master’s project in Sechelt, BC, through sponsorship from Memorial’s Quick Start Fund for Public Engagement, where she has presented the results of her research to the shíshálh Nation who continue to support and benefit from the research that archaeologists perform on their lands.