I haven’t blogged in a while as I’ve been deep in the writing of my thesis! It’s been intense to say the least but the end is in sight… hopefully. The writing process has been full of ups and downs but on reflection there are a few things I wished I had known beforehand
The isolation is real
Even in an office with other PhD students or researchers in writing a thesis is a lonely task. You’re working with your supervisors and other authors but the bulk of the work is on you. No one has the same knowledge of your project (which is pretty cool when you think about it) and no one can do it for you. So its a case of knuckling down. I have found the isolation hard and definitely one of the worst bits of my PhD. Any chance of working with other people has been a lifeline, especially demonstrating and volunteering. So if you are feeling the isolation go and find these opportunities and make time for them – you will come back to your thesis refreshed!
Ups and downs
THOSE writing days when just getting one paragraph written is a task! Don’t beat yourself up, recognise that this is part of the writing process. As one of my lecturers used to say to me ‘celebrate the small victories because there’s point waiting for the big ones’ . So if today you tackled a tricky methods paragraph or a complex part of the discussion that is an achievement – celebrate your small victory and then aim for the next one.
A common feeling among many PhD students in my experience – what am I doing, why am I doing this, am I getting anything right? I don’t have any magical advice for this one as I haven’t found a solution (if you have please let me know) but I think it’s good to know this is a common feeling. It can also be combined with impostor syndrome creating a cloud of worry. I’ve found that talking to my supervisors and other students helps to recognise these feelings. I also look back over my list for the week and remind myself of my progress to allay my fears of not doing enough.
You are more resiliant than you think
Even if progress is slow or you’re not sure, I am always impressed by the resilience of PhD students, showing up day after day to get the job done. You are so super self motivated (more than we ever give ourselves credit for!). So when its not been a good writing day (or week!) remember how far you’ve come and that we will all get there in the end – keep going!!