How to proceed with the proposal? 3 Strategies and Writing Tips for you!

Writing is a thing makes you understand yourself better and makes your head clear. The amazing thing is, you wouldn’t know how well or badly you’ve learned until you write it out by your own words. And it may always surprise you like “Wow, I did know something!” No kidding, this is the feeling while I “carved” my first proposal. 

Research proposal

Everyone has different learning patterns, different thinking modules which is based on their accumulated education from youth. Sometimes you’ve learned something, you just haven’t tried to collect and organize them to become yours. Therefore, teaching or discussing to other people is always a way to examine how well you learned the material. Before I started to write my proposal, I thought I know nothing and no idea what to write, even though I’ve already spent more than one year to be familiar with this topic. 30 pages with double space, how could I do that?

Just as the cartoon I showed in “Life could go Tougher and Tougher… Try to enjoy your Small Compliment everyday!“. I got no confidence on myself at first, but I knew I must do it, so let’s get it, man! Here’s 3 Strategies for proposal writing!!

  1. Collect all the papers you’ve read before and made some useful comments on each of them. Dr. Goodson, one of the professor teaching academic writing, had ever said that “as an efficient writer, you should be able to read every material only once, cite the core ideas and the information you need in an date-sequenced file.” So, try to have a nice table by either excel or word file to record everything you need to know from each paper. But try not be too much, make them short!
  2. Make a time frame, even you don’t feel perfectly organized, start writing in a certain period of time EVERYDAY! Avoid any distractions, save this period of time yourself alone and just focus on it! A “certain time” means a fixed time frame, like 8-10AM EVERYDAY, it depends on when do you think your most efficient time for writing. There’re several functions about this strategy,
    1. First, because you write it EVERYDAY, you will save the warm-up time for your daily writing.
    2. Second, believe it or not, there’s a moment you’ll feel you can’t wait until your writing time comes or you can’t finish your contents within this time frame. STOP! You still can’t ruin your rule, just write the daft on your notebook quickly, and when tomorrow come, you’ll find how crazy your writing progress will be.
    3. Third, clearly separate “generating” and “editing” steps. While generating ideas, contents, just go for it. Forget the grammar, sentence thing, just focus on what’s the contents you want in this paragraph. After completing generating, then you can start the editing. Editing & formatting could take much longer than generating, that’s true!
  3. Ask for Feedback! This is especially important. If you need to practice for presentation, why don’t you need to practice for writing? It’s a problem nowadays, after we rushing turned in our final report, there’s no feedback from your professor. So, it’s just like an one way road, the progress could be so limited. So, try to find your colleagues, professional writing centers for some feedback will be really helpful!


PS. One recommendation here, date-sequenced file is necessary! Do not overwrite your proposal file everyday, try to save daily proposal individually. You would never know what you think you don’t need now may be really important in the future!

As my experience, these would definitely NOT be 3-EASY-Strategies at all. You need more practices on this to become an efficient writer!

The paper collecting thing was really hard for me, especially when the direction is still vogue. Just like when you touch an elephant without seeing it, you even can’t  assure this is a leg or a nose! So, I, stubborn me, spent around one week to collect the materials into a file and felt proud to find that “Oh my God, I did read a lot of paper before!!”, it’s really amazing to feel the growing up.

After one week, I started with “Significant Aims” part, tried to squeeze out three specific aims and figured out all the cause effects, the possible hypothesis and the goal I wanna reach. It’s weird to think about all these things after one-year’s experiment, ideally I should clarify all these questions at first. But because of terribly lacking of the background and the experiment experience in bio area as well as the pressure from the experimental progress, it forced me to do something before I fully understand the whole direction. I just kind of focused too much in every details but lost the whole picture! So it’s ridiculous that this part gave me a hard time to tell people what’s my motivation, the creative ideas and the value of my experiment. Shame on me!

After the first part, I felt more comfortable to other parts, it just took time to fill all the contents in! And my time distribution was shown below, wow, it’s my 77-hour baby! And, Gee, I did complete a 29-pages proposal with 1.5 space, haha, still felt proud of myself!


But another surprising thing was, from statistics, in average I only worked 3.22 hours/day lasting for 22 days. I understood this was because I still had courses and experiment running, but the number still made me shocked, it shouldn’t be this less. Okay, it seemed like I was still not a time-efficient person though! Need to be improved in this aspect.

To sum up, from this experience, I felt like falling in love with writing, but I really needed to learn how to separate the generating and the editing process. Editing takes much longer than your imagination, but if you do both of them together, it becomes much less efficient. So, to be an efficient writer, we should collect the material everyday, write in a certain time daily and keep in mind always generate the content discarding the grammar thing first. Though I still can’t figure out how to make myself write academic material everyday, since I don’t have that much to write also there’re too many distractions, I would try my best, let’s see!

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