Kick! Punch! PhD success is all in the mind!
It is now almost a year since I returned to my PhD after my 6 months interruption of studies to have a break after 2.5 years of little progress and anxiety. Now one year on, at the next supervision meeting, we are going to review my progress since returning a year ago.
In the last post I described how from January 2017 I was tasked with trying to write Chapter 1. Well I still haven’t finished it and kind of abandoned it for now. But on the plus side, I have completed Chapter 2. It took I think about 4 or 5 months to write and has gone through 4 versions and now I am on the final (for now) version 5 which needs to be submitted by January 8th. It is the first time I have submitted anything with a beginning, middle and end! My supervisors said it was interesting, the right length and structure and:
“We both felt that you had immersed yourself in the substantive material and it was better located in the literature, we even felt like you make have enjoyed writing it!”
I was so happy to receive this that I collapsed for a couple of weeks in an exhausted state in the run up to Christmas. But on 26th December I re-started and began to make the changes for version 5. This has been terribly slow – it’s hard to restart and in hindsight perhaps I should have just leaped into incorporating the feedback rather than collapsing on the settee watching back to back episodes of Homes Under the Hammer. On the other hand, I also got the cold that everyone had been having, so watching daytime TV is more than justified and almost mandatory in those circumstances.
However, one good completed chapter in one year is probably not exactly great progress. I have started fretting a little bit that my next supervision meeting will involve a bit of a serious discussion on how my progress needs to speed up and this anxiety paralyses me in actually doing the work I need to do. I worry about what hasn’t yet happened. I also feel jealous/envious of many of my cohort who have actually submitted their theses now and I feel that I am still at the beginning, at least in terms of chapters written.
So I still feel the underlying anxiety, but this can’t get in the way of my writing which currently is lovely and joyous as my supervisors commented – by the way Chapter 2 is all about 30 years of statistics on mature students, a topic some may think could be boring and dry – but not when I write about it though. Quite a talent I’d say (smug face).
So for continuing and future success I am going to follow the following rules:
- Not compare myself to others
- Enjoy it – it shows in the writing and makes the work more enjoyable to read
- Listen to upbeat happy music to keep the happy vibe up
- Remember that my project is very interesting and others WILL love to read it!
- Carry on meeting with PhD friends at our writing groups to avoid isolation and procrastination
- Not stress about what my supervisors might say as they are never as critical as my inner voice is
- Stop watching Homes Under the Hammer (and Dinner Date, Don’t Tell the Bride, any programmes about serial killers, QVC and so on….)
Go you! Lovely to have an update; I’d been wondering how you were doing. I found my writing speeded up exponentially as my PhD progressed and I developed more understanding of how to write, what I was writing about, and what I wanted to say. Each piece of writing will help the next. I didn’t finish my first chapter till very late in the process – I still find I usually finish introductory chapters last, or late on, when I’m writing books. Finishing a chapter is a big milestone, it doesn’t necessarily mean everything to come will be easier (sorry!) but very probably most of it will be. Keep on keeping on, I’m rootin’ for ya!
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