These are the 5 W’s as Applied to Dissertation and Thesis Writing (Mind-Frame Motivation)

Sep 2, 2020Blog Posts0 comments

The Importance of Mindset

I want to show you how to get yourself in the right mindset by following the 5 W’s.

As a child, I often got told to think about the 5 W’s when carrying out work. Who, What, When, Where, and Why? Then I had a realisation. Why should that stop after childhood?

With that in mind, I applied the 5 W’s to more work throughout my adult life, albeit in a slightly different way.

Instead of using them as a base for the work itself, I started using them to help me get in the right mindset to do the task.

Today I’m sharing this technique with you to improve your mind-frame motivation when it comes to some of the incredibly taxing and most important work of your life – dissertation and thesis writing.



First of all, you need to ask yourself who you’re doing the work for.

By this, I don’t mean your tutors!

Think more deeply than the technicality of who you’re submitting the piece to.

In the majority of cases, everyone will have the same answer to this.


When you think of your dissertation and thesis writing as a document to get assessed, it becomes a chore. However, think about it in terms of doing it for yourself (and, more specifically, your future).

Then it becomes an easier task.

People are often more motivated by selfish intent.

Don’t worry. I don’t mean that negatively!

It means that you’re more willing and enthusiastic about completing work that provides a benefit to you.

Don’t go into writing your dissertation or thesis with the sole thought of handing it to an assessor. Keep in mind that you’re writing it for you.


This W leads nicely from the last point.

Remembering why you’re doing the work can give you a huge boost when you’re feeling the mid-dissertation or thesis slug or writer’s block.

All too often, it’s easy to think of the deadline as being the finishing line. But, we all know that isn’t true.

Handing in your dissertation or thesis is simply a checkpoint in the marathon.

Before you start writing, take some time to yourself to sit and think about why you’re writing.

Think beyond this single piece of work and into where it’s going to get you.

Are you completing a degree to achieve your dream career? Do you want to extend your knowledge and understanding of a subject? Perhaps you want to follow in the footsteps of someone inspirational?

Keep your eyes on the goal and keep running towards that.

Don’t trip or slow down just because you’ve reached a checkpoint.


Think about what you’re actually writing. I know it may sound silly, but hear me out.

I can almost guarantee that you’ve said, “What am I even supposed to do?” when working at some point. Or, in not, then words to that effect.

Even if it’s in jest, it’s likely there’s still truth in it and that there’s an undertone of genuine confusion.

Don’t dive in without a plan of what to write.

You probably have a million ideas floating around in your head, and you want to get them all crammed in there before they disappear. However, this can lead to your job being more difficult later when you have to cut half of it out.

Make notes or plans before you begin, then pull out the most relevant points you need to include.

Think to yourself, “What is the relevance and importance of this information?”.

It will help you have a clearer view of the piece of writing as a whole, and how it will all tie together.

You’ll find you have a better understanding of what you’re trying to say before you start writing, thus knowing what your purpose is.


Consider when it is that you’ve reached this point.

How have you reaches this point, and how long has it taken you?

Ponder how much hard work you’ve put in to reach this point.

Think of the when as timeline analysis.

I know that might initially sound a bit scary, so let me try and explain it as simply as I can.

Past – The time it’s taken you to get to this point and when you knew it was the right time to take this path.

Present – Appreciate the ‘Right now!’. When you were younger, did you have a plan to be here now? When did you think you’d reach this time of your life? How does that compare to where you are now?

Future – When do you see this piece of work paying off? Think as far forward as you can. Is it going to help you get your dream career? Will it lead to you being where you always wanted to be?

All these questions will get you thinking about the reasons you’re doing it, and consequently, will motivate you to do well.


This W focuses more on the completion of the work in a literal sense as opposed to motivational reasons.

Having the perfect plan and combining all of these previous steps won’t yield the best results if you aren’t in a suitable working environment.

You have to find a place where you’re able to have full concentration and get into the head-space of the work.

For example, here are some places where students work on their dissertation or thesis, which aren’t necessarily great choices:

  • Sat or lying on the bed
  • On the sofa in your living room
  • In a crowded, noisy place

For the first two, these are places your body associates with sleep or rest. As a result, you won’t be able to provide full focus as your brain automatically thinks you should be resting. The second is just because you aren’t able to lend the work your full attention.

Carefully consider where you’re going to work to be in the best space to think clearly and stay in the working mind-frame.

Focus and Motivation

It can be tricky to get the hang of this way of thinking initially, but once you do, you can massively improve your productivity and quality of work.

Take time before your work sessions to answer the 5 W’s, and you should feel better prepared mentally to tackle your writing.

What do you think of this technique? Or, what methods do you use to remain focused and motivated?

Leave a comment below, and let’s share our best tips and tricks to get into the dissertation and thesis writing mindset.







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