As I’ve written about previously in this blog, when I was thinking about applying to do a PhD by far the most common piece of advice I got from people who had completed their PhD was along the lines of ‘you must get a great supervisor’.
Well, I’m happy to report that – touch obligatory piece of wood and pray to the Gods in thanks – I seem to have successfully accomplished this (early days and all that but I am very hopeful…)
Interestingly a piece of advice that didn’t get mentioned by anyone was about writing. Given the central nature of writing to a PhD – in the form of a 100,000 word thesis, not to mention multiple other writing like ethics, update reports, various other applications – this seems rather surprising in hindsight. It is only now, 2 months into it, that my supervisors have started – repeatedly and almost a bit alarmingly over the last week or two – telling me I must ‘start writing’.
Of course, this directive is very wise and sensible! But the ‘what’ is not defined – we are currently debating about whether I should start with a systematic review or whether an analysis of previous related research data is most appropriate and relevant. Which actually means that I don’t have anything to write about (I’m rather confused a out whether ‘notes’ count).
Which brings me to this blog – and me writing this blog at Shut Up and Write I’ve always rather liked writing – or maybe more accurately I like words – though admittedly I have been a tad scared of it too and spent way too much time deliberating (agonizing!) over the composition of one sentence or word – but, generally, once I get going I certainly appreciate the opportunity writing gives to compose thoughts in a more ordered and rational way. Above all, I think – at least for the time being – I really have to LET GO the thought that all my writing/blogging must be ground-breaking and amazing works of academia (Honestly!) (though I can’t let go of the hope that this may come to pass one day in the future).
I’m hoping that will encourage me to write in a more disciplined and strategic way.