- If you are a double major in something boring and tedious like Econ, realize that something will have to give. Drop the major ASAP, forget about the thesis, or tell your parents they will have to pay an extra few terms of tuition.
- If you get anxious when talking about race, don’t venture into any kind of postcolonial text. Write about modernism, or better still, Chaucer.
- If you must write about postcolonial texts, don’t resist resistance. Resistance is your friend. One day, we will be able to say more about postcolonial expression than that it resists, but we haven’t gotten there yet.
- Don’t attempt to write about some quasi-philosophical concept like “alienation,” because even if it is relatable, it will stop making sense.
- Don’t anticipate a skeptical white male reader, especially if your advisor is a badass woman of color who believes in you and is down for the cause.
- Whatever you do, do not write about Bessie Head’s A Question of Power. You will run mad.
Okay, okay, here’s some actual, relatable advice.
- Take your sweet, delicious, tantalizing time with choosing a primary text or focus. Lie on the grass, siesta with your windows open, drink mimosas at brunch. (Bonus tip: write about something that has to do with sex, or dancing.)
- Choose a topic that is interesting, but not so interesting that it could affect your mental health.
- Read as much as possible before forming an opinion on the academic conversation you’re joining. That one article is stupid doesn’t mean everyone in the field is a bumbling fool.
- Be selfish with your time. It might feel like reading and thinking aren’t energy and time-consuming, but they are. If your loved ones don’t understand… honestly, they will, even if they’re terrible people.
- Let go of the guilt that comes with dealing mainly in the realm of ideas. You are not an evil intellectual that does not care about actual people.
- If a book or article seems relevant to your research but is unavailable at your library, request it, recall it, buy it, torrent it – do whatever you gotta do. You don’t want to find out late in the process that the missing piece of the puzzle was there all along.
- If you never quite got the hang of writing drafts, record yourself talking out your ideas, then transcribe. Find some way to get the ideas down… you won’t remember it all. It is better to have sixty pages of pure rubbish, than to have one excellent paragraph.
- If you must, quit.
- And if you don’t quit, but at the end of the process feel unsatisfied with what you have produced, understand that you have grown as a person and that was the point all along.