Running on Thesis Fumes

I’m in the fifth year of my statistics PhD, and the time has finally come where I need to lock myself in my office and write a thesis. It’s going to be amazing fun, I assure you. I’m hoping I’ll reach true nirvana somewhere along the way.

Since I’ve all but finalized my thesis defense date for the end of this summer, it’s going to be a hectic three months. This month, I’ll be working hard to roll out a usable and useful application that some of you will be able to use. There will be more details, but it has to do with memories, calendars, and it’s in the same spirit of your.flowingdata.

After that, I’ll write.

I’m telling you this, because my brain is going to be in another place for the next few months. I fully intend to regularly update FlowingData. I’m too OCD not to, but if I happen to miss a day, you’ll know why.

Email responses will also slow to a snail’s pace. But please do keep sending in suggestions to [email protected]. Your post ideas will help the flow coming since I won’t be able to stay on top of things as well as I’d like to.

Finally, if you have any visualization-related questions, you should definitely post it to the forums before emailing me. There are nice people who hang out there sometimes, so you’re more likely to get a response through there than through my neglected inbox.

Alright. Here we go. Let the fun begin.


  • Good luck with your thesis!

  • pazalinio July 5, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Good luck bud, it’s always been a pleasure reading your posts!

  • New High Score July 5, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Good luck bro.

  • Good luck with your thesis. There are worse things than making us take a breather from your awesome posts ;o)

  • Good luck

    Our first child was due 2 months after I locked myself in a room — nothing like deadlines to get the dissertation written!

    One thing for me that worked well was to set a daily minimum word count: it didn’t matter if I did more, or even if the words were good, just that there were 1000 NEW words on the thesis each day. Then I could rest, or write more, or draw some figures, or edit, or clean the basement… whatever helped get me through. After a few days, I had a “chain” of writing days that I didn’t break (couldn’t break after a while) no matter what… until the draft was complete. The day I decided I had “enough” was a great day. Then I went into heavy editing, of course.

    Submitted the draft 23 hours before I met my son :)

    Best of luck!

  • @polarisdotca July 5, 2010 at 10:06 am

    The most important thing I learned writing my thesis was start with the second sentence of the intro paragraphs. That perfect opening line will come to you later. Like in the shower or on the bus. And when it comes, write it down. Well, these days, voice-memo it on your phone or tweet it or something.

  • Have fun, no luck needed! +1 to Morgan’s suggestion of the minimum words (or other measurement you choose) per day. It works for many tasks that take a while to complete.

    AND gives you data for another chart…

  • Way to go!!! This is very exciting news. My best advice for dissertation writing is to never forget the power of a short declarative sentence for getting things done (GTD)! The data were this. They showed that. I conclude this. Sometimes when your head gets too full of abstraction, short is what you need.

  • Keep writing Nathan! Just like driving, as long as you keep writing, you’ll get there eventually.

  • Dissertation Boot Camp, FTW! It’s like Morgan’s suggestion, but focuses on establishing a productive routine (>= 4 hours/day).

    A group of us continued with our own bootcamp after going to the official one over spring break, and it turned an otherwise painful process into something productive and even fun.

    Good luck!

  • Null Hypothesis July 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Good luck! You have been an inspiration. I hope this is wildly successful.

  • Good luck with the writing! Look forward to seeing the metadata you collect on yourself while writing. :)

  • Hey Nathan, Good luck and happy wishes to you as prepare to and jump through the last hoop.

  • All the best for the thesis!

    It might be fun to save a copy of your thesis each night (or use SVN or similar), that would be an awesome data source to analyse (Do the words/sentences written become shorter as the deadline draws nearer? Is there a “golden stretch” of days where you are at your most productive? What’s the “mortality rate” of the words, and how is it related to word length or rarity?)

    Looking forward to welcoming you back, we’ll be patiently waiting for your return.

  • “useful application” it’s cool! Thank you for Your.FlowingData.