As part of the first year of my PhD I was required to take an academic writing module. This consisted of a two day workshop and culminated in a 2,000 word assignment where I had to critique four articles relevant to my area of interest (though the workshop was delivered by the university’s academic writing centre, the assignment would be marked by my supervisors). The purpose of this was to ascertain whether I can write well and do so critically (criteria mentions things like ‘going beyond description’, ‘appropriate texts for analysis were chosen, ‘appropriate style for a paper at doctoral level ’ etc.). For an EAP practitioner this should be a walk in the park, no?
When it came to the assignment you might think I was brimming with confidence. Not so. I write a blog that is very much in line with the assignment brief (where I summarise and critique an article relevant to my field – The EAP archivist) and can happily sit and produce 1,000 words or so. The difference is I don’t know who, if anyone, really reads my blog. Writing for no audience in particular is a very freeing experience. Writing for your 2 supervisors is not. Talk about suffering from imposter syndrome (see excellent posts from thesis whisperer and ebefl)! While I agree with Steve Kirk in that we should ‘put aside our writing specialist self’, I also need to be very aware of heeding my own advice. Not least, not leaving my assignment to the last minute!
One of the biggest challenges was finding the time to write. I embarked on this PhD with naïve enthusiasm and a commitment to write everyday – that hasn’t happened. I find myself having ideas at inopportune moments and no way of writing them down. I have heard about authors having pads on their bedside tables to capture those 2am thoughts, but I can’t be bothered to turn on the light and I don’t have a bedside table. I often have the best ideas while driving to and from work. So, while on the M45 one morning, it struck me – why not turn the music off and record my rambling thoughts on my phone? This is the only space I have alone and uninterrupted (unless I need to shout at an Audi driver) and I need to maximise it. So this is what I have been doing, though road rage rants will need editing out!
I wonder though, if it’s illegal to text while driving, where does the law stand on writing a thesis while driving?