How to Write a PhD Thesis in 30 Days

A PhD thesis is not just a document. It is not just a piece of evidence that you have actually done something during the years hiding in your lab. It is not even the main goal of the degree. It is much more than that.

It is something that will sit on your bookshelf for many years – a reminder of endless hours of putting off writing it, of staying up past midnight on more occasions than you care to remember, and the relatively few hours actually writing it. It is a reminder of the messages that begin with “We are sorry to inform you”. When people ask how the thesis is going, you can finally point to it and say “it wasn’t too bad, really”.

But most of all, it is part of the weaponry used to slay the dragons in the final showdown; to help convince a panel of experts that you know what you’re doing. Because you do, right?

So, is it possible to write one in only 30 days? Simple – just ten easy steps:

  1. Set an outrageous goal, like writing a thesis in 30 days, and let everyone know about it. Risk looking like an idiot when you fail to achieve it.
  2. Finally accept that your research won’t solve the world’s problems. Your initial plans were far too ambitious. Instead, accept that your thesis will raise more questions than it answers.
  3. Accept the risk of failure. It’s up to the examiners to make that call, not you.
  4. Bribe yourself. $0.10 of guilt-free mountaineering gear for every word written should do it.
  5. Reward yourself. Finishing early means saving thousands in course fees. Perfect to instead use to test all that new gear.
  6. Stop wasting time doing the things you love, like climbing, mountaineering, and snowboarding; instead, focus your waking hours solely on writing. Actually, don’t do that. Remaining at least partially sane is actually quite important. Rather, stop doing the things you don’t particularly enjoy but do anyway. I’m looking at you, Facebook, Google News, and YouTube.
  7. Resist the temptation to say “I’ll do that tomorrow”. Now’s Good.
  8. Don’t procrastinate writing that thesis by instead writing a blog post about it, and actually go and write the thesis.
  9. And finally, don’t add more steps than necessary. The end result will always be different from the plan.

For me, those 30 days start tomorrow, not including weekends. The draft will be done by the end of July. Expect an update.

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