For a year I tried to write a thesis while I had a job, and I did about a minute of thesis work a day. Losing that job meant winning the thesis, which is now my sole delight both day and night and so I spend most of my time thinking up new ways to motivate myself.
My topic is (of course) every woman's favorite Bible verse, "She shall be saved by childbearing" from the wonderful 1st epistle to Timothy. I'm looking at childbirth through ancient medical texts, which means I get to read about a lot of menstrual blood and bile and phlegm and primitive means of contraception (jump up and down seven times after intercourse, then sneeze). Fun stuff, I tell you. MOTIVATION IS KEY. So here are the top ten motivating methods, tested and tried, they work.
1) Give yourself all day (duh)
2) Don't give yourself all day!! Within the constraints of actually giving yourself all day, you have to convince yourself you don't have all day. Set deadlines. As much as I hate 2-hour parking limits, they work wonderfully because you simply must WORK FASTER before you have to leave, and it's not some makebelieve deadline, you're actually threatened by Lovely Rita Meter Maid who is going to fine you an arm and a leg, and it would be hard to write your thesis without your arm.
3) Along the lines of the above. Make a pie and put it in the oven and you have to get an hour's worth of work done before you're allowed to get up and get the pie, and if you work too slowly the pie will burn.
4) Uninstall Angry Birds.
5) Make a list of all the pieces you can work on without using the internet, and leave your laptop at home.
6) Leave facebook and blogs and pinterest at home without leaving the laptop at home - use the library of a school you don't attend, because they sure as heck won't let you on the internet there. Or write in a cafe where they charge for internet. Who charges for internet these days??!? Gaylord's on Piedmont, that's who.
7) Hit prime writing velocity by allowing yourself to include phrases such as "the shit hits the fan here" and "THIS IS A (*#&@)*ing STUPID IDEA but they believed it" and promise to edit them out later.
8) Don't try to write for more than four hours at a time. Take a nice long break, and a nap. Then write from midnight to 2 AM and sleep in the next morning, you can do that because Thesis is your only master, and Thesis knows no curfew.
9) By now you probably need to uninstall Angry Birds again.
10) Create motivational boards on Pinterest such as: when i finish my thesis i shall reward myself by cooking and eating absolutely everything that looks good on pinterest and tell yourself stories about how wonderful life will be when Thesis is finished, filed, published, on the NYT bestseller list, going on book tours, etc, maybe Jon Stewart will want to interview me.... SNAP! GET BACK TO WORK!