Too much writing – week twenty-three as a PhD student

PhD Life

I find myself much less enthusiastic about writing this week; I think it is because I have spent the last two weeks sat in this chair writing. One thing I have realised from this extended period of writing is that without being in the lab I feel as if I am standing still. For me, I think I will need to plan my project better so that I am mixing up writing and practical work; I theorise that I will enjoy my time much more and feel more momentum if I can plan practical work and writing side-by-side.

I have completed my guest blog post for The British Nutrition Foundation; I had to cut the word count down to 650 words from 1200. I might write a separate blog post on the experience of writing a guest post in the future. I had been reading other posts on their site, just to get an idea of the style of writing, and on a few articles I copied them into a document to check the word count. Not to my surprise, the word counts were all above the limit I was given. Seeing as this is my first guest post I am very keen to please the editor, but I am not sure how comfortable I was cutting words from my post to fit an arbitrary word count. I am sure experienced writers would have a few things to say about this. Anyway, it is likely to be posted or axed by this point, so I shall add the appropriate link here.

I have also been writing and editing my six-month review documents, I need to produce a report where I explain what I have been doing and what I plan to do. Alongside that document I have to report all the presentations, outreach activities, courses, and pieces of writing I have completed. It helps to set goals, but I can’t help thinking that I should spread these sorts of activities out so that I have something to put in the box at each six.-month report. I realise this is an expedient view of things, but I don’t want to work harder than is strictly necessary if only to avoid the mental health issues that are more than likely to come my way.

Bundled in with a week of writing, is a hell of a lot of reading. In my case, reading is the reading of scientific papers, which is tiring and time-consuming. If the paper is one where the ideas are new to me, it can take at least an hour to read through the paper. I have a folder of papers ‘to read’, and it grows each week. One of the good things about science, albeit time-consuming, is that every point you make you have to back up with ‘evidence’. The time-consuming part comes when you know that the point is valid because you have read it before, but cannot remember where and in what paper the point was evidenced. This means reading through a bunch of papers to find it unless you’re much more organised than me. Normally when I am writing I spend around 50% of the time reading, this is another reason as to why I find writing very tiring.

This is what happens after I type for too long!

Image result for too much typing

Next week I hope to order some chemicals that I need for an experiment, however, I need to speak to the health and safety manager as the chemicals have an explosive tendency… Also next week I am attending a Liquid nitrogen course, so I expect it will be much more interesting!

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

16 thoughts on “Too much writing – week twenty-three as a PhD student

  1. I agree to writing being tiring when ones engrossed in so much research. I’ve been building this prototype for speech recognition and even though reading is something I avidly enjoy there’s a limit to one can entertain themselves by reading research papers through the evening on a weekend. By the end of the week I mostly recline to reading something other than work because I’m just too tired to write a post, then edit. And then add some more to it. Trying to keep it far away from whatever that is work related. 🙂


    1. Wow that sounds like an interesting project. Not many people talk about pacing yourself when writing, in things like exercise it is well understood, but not so much in academia.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True that. Writing is itself, to me, despite by default a hobby, a daunting task. And when one is centered around academia, writing rears it’s head like the seven headed hydra just awake from its deep slumber. I teach full time and at the end of the day, writing for the sake of pure creativity is really exhausting. 🙂


  2. I am a writer and I recently discoverd the Audio fnction on M/s word. It si amazing when your writng is read back to you- ,then you disocvre mistakes andglicthes that you ahev not previously noticed. When I was studying I colour coded thsoe notes I was sure I would need again


  3. I visited your guest post. I think it sounded very professional and not rushed at all. I would be interested in reading the full 1,200 word version of it if you decide to share it.


  4. I feel your pain with all the reading – it’s definitely something I don’t miss! I too could spend an hour on one paper. At times it feels frustratingly slow (not to mention completely exhausting), but you’ll get there.


  5. Writing is very tedious I’m sure. And working on your PhD is difficult. You are bound to go through resentment times. In my return to school, I have had moments that I just want to give up, but I am not working NEAR as hard as you are and feel I have no room to gripe about my position. Part of what keeps me going is giving myself a break and not beating myself up when I feel that way. I don’t know if that is what you do to stay the course but you have made it this far. Focus on what you have accomplished maybe instead of what you have to do… and hang in there. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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