I met with one of my professors a few months ago just to have a cup of coffee and chat a bit about things. One of the topics we came upon was how my thesis was going (a question, I think, most graduate students dread when getting into their final months of writing). I had mentioned I was still hashing out some ideas and trying to organize things together to show to my advisor to make sure things were on the write track before getting writing. You know, to avoid wasting time writing something that my advisor may eventually recommend to remove, after seeing my thesis outline. His reply really stuck with me. He said:

你要開始寫,否則你會不知道你在缺甚麼東西。
(You better start writing, otherwise you won’t know what you’re missing.)

And I remember thinking, “well, what if it doesn’t get approved?”. Regardless, I took the advice and started writing. Now, after a few months of writing I totally understand what he meant. I can now know what exactly it is I am missing, be it a specific resource or even an idea that was never really flushed out. There’s a risky cliff, I believe, that most students find themselves on before writing. There’s certain assumptions being made about what kind of materials they have on hand and what the sources say, but this oftentimes overlooks what kind of materials they actually have and what the sources actually say.

There’s a lot of discussion online about whether or not you should just start writing or wait, or what. In my experiences it seems always be ready to write, but also always be ready to discard and rewrite as well. Plus, it always helps to get in a little more writing practice, too!