Last friday marked a year since I started my PhD. Not a year full time, but nevertheless the day felt significant. Here’s what’s different:
- I know where to find a free car park that’s not too far away
- There’s a coffee shop on campus with a guy called Leo who knows my order just by looking at my Keep Cup
- I know most of the postgrads and academics in my department well enough to have a friendly chat in the hallway
- My office feels like home
- I have nearly 30,000 words and three publications under my belt
- I have a writing practice that I’m happy with
- I LOVE my topic, and feel blessed every day that I’m being paid to write and read and think
Here’s what’s the same:
- I’m still ridiculously insecure about my writing and expect to be told I’m not really allowed to be here, or that my scholarship has been revoked, at any moment
- I ride waves of overwhelm more than once a day
- I wish had more time to do my work
- I wish I didn’t feel as if I was stealing from my children to do my work
- Becoming a teaching academic at the end of this process feels like a pipe dream
- I can only find my way back to my building via two very specific routes – if you span me around with a blindfold on in the middle of the university I could be wandering for an hour
And on learning to read: there’s all this amazing advice out there about writing a PhD, but very little about reading for a PhD. I’ve discovered that the old undergrad method of reading, highlighting, pulling out quotes and then writing to them isn’t really working for me. I need to be able to get through much more material much faster than I did before. I read somewhere that you should take notes as if you’re taking them for someone else. This makes sense to me, but I’m creating a particular kind of work, with a layering of voices, and I find that I need to read slowly, to think about what I’m reading, to hold words carefully in my mind, and then lay them carefully inside my writing. How I balance speed with this kind of care is currently beyond me.
How do you read?
What kind of notes do you take?
Share, please, and put a gal out of her misery.
- #11. 10 Things I remember from the first year of PhD (beingmrsdrd.wordpress.com)
- PhD Survival Guide: Mount Everest Edition (lucialorenzi.wordpress.com)