Tuesday, 1 July 2008

And it was all going so well...

I'm back.

Nine months into my renewed attempt at my PhD. I have felt stronger, more skilled, more knowledgeable and better equipped this time round. Up until this month, I have convinced myself that this would be the time when I would finally get it done. I am confident that my plan is sound and I have a pretty good idea of the chapters and the arguments I'm going to make - though the latter need developing theoretically.

For the past three months I have been working towards starting to rewrite and I have deliberately chosen the easiest one to write - the one light on theory and heavy on description. After delays from other work commitments, holidays and a certain amount of procrastination today was the day I started to write my first page.

And I have really struggled. Words are failing me, expression eludes me, I tinker about with the same paragraph over and over and it all sounds so lame. So weak.

I feel sick, my heart is racing, my mind is whirling, and I'm obsessing on random sentences - I'm right back to the same problems I faced first time around and I'm so disappointed. This time, I really thought it would be different, but the same old demons are coming back to haunt me.

If any of you are out there identify with my plight or have advice to get me out of it - I'd welcome the input.

17 comments:

Suzy said...

Welcome back!!


It's a struggle. Just write. The nonsense and the random sentences MUST come out first to get to the good stuff. Honest. I have a sign that someone made me posted at me desk- "Write Suzy, Write."

Easier said than done, but just write what comes out and don't judge.

Just keep going....


Love,

Suzy

belle said...

Oh sweet pea! I feel for you, I really do. Having only just got my BA, I'm hardly qualified to advise but I would say that Suzy's comment is excellent. I have a similar problem when I sit down to write. Accept that the nonsense and random stuff will be all you see at first but get that down and you'll come to some gems, I'm sure.

Flowerpot said...

For what it's worth I know ust what you feel like but then I've never tried anything as ambitious as a degree. Good on you. I always find it easier to get the first draft down - DON#T let yourself go over and over those forst few sentences. Try and get it down - doesnt matter what it sounds like or looks like. Then when you've got the gyst of it down, you can go back and edit. Don't read over what you've written. Make notes if necessary. That's what I do if I'm writig a piece that won't do waht want it to. I put in BIT ABOUT HER PAST OR WHY SHE CHOSE THIS PROFESSION or something - a mental note to myself. Then I keep going. End of epistle. It works for me. Best of luck!

rosiero said...

Have just found your blog and feel like I am reading about me! I am only into the first few posts of last year, but bear with me and I shall catch up. As to your present dilemma, just get any old thing down and then have a go at redrafting and redrafting. You'll get there.

Tina said...

You see, we all understand ML. Just hotfooted it over here, brandishing my scroll as proof that if I can do it, anyone can. I can only say what everyone else says, just write it down. It doesn't matter if it looks like rubbish; that's not as scary as a blank piece of paper taunting you. Write it down, then hone it.

If there's anything I can help you with practically, drop me a personal e-mail, the address is on my profile.

We all know you can do it, we just need you to understand it. So you see, it's actually us with all the hard work to do...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Go for a long walk. Clear your head. Listen to the nothing. Remind yourself why you are doing this. Go back to your computer and write. Write what you were thinking about on your walk. Write about the smells, the sounds, the thoughts that raced through your head. Don't keep stopping to read what you have written. Just write it. Then go for another walk, clear your head once more and think about what you wrote. You will want to get back and write more, a continuation from where you left off.

Lovely to see you back. Hope you manage to get it sorted.

CJ xx

Mid-lifer said...

Suzy - thanks. I know you're right, I sometimes just get so clouded up i can't move on. It really helps to know others know what I mean and Belle - same, great to know other people write random rubbish too.

Flowerpot - very good advice. I used to be like that when I was writing articles, but there's something so personal about this thesis that it blurs my distance from the writing.

Rosiero - great to hear from you. Tina thanks loads - lovely to know I can email you if I need a little help and an uplift, bless you and Crystal, good point too. Walks are great. I'm just hounded my the idea of time pressures.

Today is another day. I'm feeling a little better. I've read what I l;ast wrote and it's better than I thought, so here's hoping I get a better day today.

It has really helped enormously just to write all this down and get the support from all of you. Int bloggin wunnerful?

Manic Mother Of Five said...

OK, I'm no graduate so tell me I don't know what I'm talking about by all means but it sounds like you have got a decent plan done so just type away. You can always edit and rethink but you need to get some "bones" done before you start adding meat..... It's so easy to get bogged down and wrapped up in individual words and phrases.....

Gor for it!!!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Hi, just popped by for the first time and read this post. Been there, done it, bought the t -shirt! Well, up to masters level!

I had to tell myself that it didn't matter a jot if I failed that what I put in was of consequence to me and if no one else liked it then tough doodoo. One man's bad opinion is another man's pass with distinction. You seem to be having a crisis of confidence and of course that is very debilitating. Are you generally a perfectionist – we can be our own worst enemies! All the advice here is just fantastic but just remember to tell yourself that 'you shouldn't sweat the small stuff in life and that everything in life is the small stuff'!

Before going to sleep, close your eyes, visualise getting your doctorate, the smiling faces of family, friends and colleagues all around you and then imagine how fantastic that feels. If you try to do that regularly and feel that real joy of success and then big it up as much as possible, even colour the image with your favourite colour you will be amazed how when you get jittery and finding all sorts of displacement activity that you can spur yourself on with the image of success! Oh the other thing is, set yourself a time limit and don’t exceed it. Five minutes first time, six the next and so on. Make yourself stop so that you are writing only for a very small manageable chunk of time. It takes the pressure off you and eventually you will sit down knowing that you can stop very soon or go on if you chose to. Good luck – it’s just a bit of cognitive behavioural therapy that works wonders if you practice it. Alternatively, print this out, use it as toilet paper and have a large G&T!

Mid-lifer said...

That - is fantastic advice!
I do try to wake up each morning and say - today is going to be a good writing day etc. But the visualisation thing is good too.

You're right - it's my confidence - it's the: 'OMG I can't do this' feeling.

I try to stop myself going into a spin about the enormity of what I have to achieve and remind myself - I can only try to get it done - if I don't do it, at least I tried.

Thank you, I will look at your comment whenever I have one of my crisis moments.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I follow Anne Lamott's advice, via BIRD BY BIRD, "write a shitty first draft - just write."

Mid-lifer said...

Problem is CWL - I've already written two shitty first drafts and I thought that this final return years later would be different. But, it's not. I just need to plug on and on and on. Ive got this far -- if it's still not good enough, at least I might get a masters out of it (hopefully?)

Mid-lifer said...

I still can't stop going back to read what I've written, even though I know I mustn't.

How DO you stop that?

Mean Mom said...

I'm not going to be much help, here. I struggle with blogging and I don't have a degree. Flowerpot's advice sounds good to me. Having a rest and looking at your writing afresh is also a good idea. It's often a surprise to find that it's much better than you thought after a good night's sleep.

If you fancy some light relief, there are awards at my place.

Mid-lifer said...

I managed to hand half of the chapter in and I met with my supervisor today. Though concerned about my pace of production, he liked what I had done (and said it was very well written!) - also that it was definitely PhD material.
Now I just have to get on and write the other 7 and a half chapters.

sigh...

Suzy said...

How's it going?

Just checkin in.

Love,

Suzy

Mid-lifer said...

hey suzy - on hold for the summer holz.....tooo slow and I'm procrastinating badly.