I haven’t published any new blog posts for a while. I’ve started writing a few, but I keep getting stuck with the feeling that I’ve said it all before, that I’m adding nothing new and that what I’m writing now isn’t as good as what I’ve written before.
Some would argue that the solution to this is to just write and not worry at all about quality. If my only goal were to publish something then this would work, but I don’t want to publish rubbish.
The solution is not to let go of all standards, but to redefine them in a more helpful way.
So instead of telling myself, “this isn’t new”, I can ask myself, “is this a useful idea that’s worthy of repetition?”
And instead of asking whether it’s as good as my best, I can just give it my best shot and then try to make it slightly better.
Ask yourself what expectations you have of your own writing, and whether they are helping you reach a higher standard or holding you back. Then ask yourself whether you can redefine them in a useful way.
So if you think that your thesis is your one chance to make a contribution to the body of knowledge, try thinking of it as the first attempt in your academic career.
If you think your paper has to be the best ever published, try to think instead about whether it clearly communicates your ideas and addresses the research problem.
And if you worry about other people’s judgement, ask yourself; what’s the worst that can happen?