They never said it was going to be easy. Three vast years stretch out before me, with a vague target of 2013 for submitting my thesis. Numbers have become meaningless. The moon is 240000 miles away. My thesis deadline is 1034 days away. I have already frittered 32 days away on a well-earned holiday after completing my MA, on visiting friends, and on a sally forth to the countryside to see nine piglets. Everyone has been telling me that the most difficult aspect of the PhD is time management, and I think the first few months are all about trying to achieve the right balance between work and play. My peers are dealing with this in different ways. A fellow English compadre is working frantically in the library all day, buying shares in Red Bull, and typing thousands of words every week. Another friend has become addicted to Jeremy Kyle and refuses to leave the house in the mornings until it is over. I am finding it challenging to get motivated, to say the least. Did you know they’ve started showing One Tree Hill on E4 every morning?!
I went to a PSTP course (which are personal development courses for PhD-ers) on Beginning Writing in the 1st Year of the PhD, which helped a bit. There were good tips on evaluating research and it was reassuring to know that everyone has similar concerns. I’ve also started going to the School of English research seminars, which are inspiring and are helping to familiarise me with the academic environment. And they provide free wine. Today and yesterday were my first full days of geeking it up in the library, and I actually feel like I achieved something. So I hope I’m starting to find my groove.
It’s harder than you think.