Bruised Clocks and Time Spinning By

I think I need to go back to filling out my black board with the week’s achievements. Time is moving so fast that I can barely keep up. Telling one week’s activites from the next is quite a struggle. It seems like it was only last week that I went to see Mona Eltahawy, which my friend wrote a brilliant review for, but in reality, it was almost a month ago. This week I went to see the brilliant Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk. She was wonderfully eloquent and down to earth – the interview was hosted by an ornithologist, which meant that it was a rather bird-y evening, but she managed to bring it back to the book fairly regularly.

I’ve also been working on my chapter, which I think is vaguely starting to take shape. I feel like I’ve been working on it since I started the PhD. It’s the only chapter that I’ve known from the beginning would exist. I’ve found that in the last year I seem to have moved from being fairly good at close reading and picking apart texts, to being really theory heavy. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get back to the text, unravelling the meaning and then reading it using a trans theoretical stand point. I think I might be getting there though. Maybe. I’m sure I will have changed my mind by this evening.

I’ve been working on a book that I used in my Masters dissertation and I’m finding it interesting how different my reading is now. Well, not necessarily different, but certainly more complex. I haven’t really had a yardstick with which to measure my intellectual progress until now. It’s easy enough to say, well I’ve written this many words and this conference paper – that’s just target setting and achievement. But seeing how your thinking has actually developed is much harder to judge, and I think ultimately more satisfying. Of course, when I hand the chapter in I might get a short, sharp reality check, but we’ll see.

The chapter is due in at the end of the month, ready for a discussion a couple of weeks later with both of my supervisors. I then need to move immediately onto the next chapter, which I haven’t even vaguely started thinking about yet. I keep on finding myself so grateful that I took the time to colour code all of my notes according to chapter. It means I can just flick through both of my folders and find the most pertinent information.

This week I’ve also been teaching, organising abstracts for a collection I’m editing with some other academics, and writing a short story to submit to Severine Lit. I also wasted a day getting a new tattoo, which is excellent (but is currently very bruised).

This week I’m marking essays and trying to finish the chapter. I’m also speaking to some people thinking about doing a PhD for our careers service. No idea what I’m going to say yet…

A Colourful Balancing Act

I’ve actually had a really good week. This might be the first time I’ve said that on this blog. I really feel like something’s clicked. This week I’ve written about 2,500 words and finished colour-coding my N-Z folder. I’m going to start on the larger A-M one today.

This week started pretty slowly – I was determined to achieve something so I opened one of my favourite thesis books and started writing bullet-points about the sections I’d post-it noted as important. The first day I naively wanted to write 2000 words, because if nothing else I’m blithely optimistic about my ability to sit still and concentrate. I think I clocked about 400 words that day. The next day I decided to use the pomodoro method, which I first spoke about here, in which you work solidly and without distraction for a timed 25 minutes, and then have a five minute break. It always works for me, I don’t know why I keep forgetting that. I think it’s out of some weird belief that I shouldn’t need to use it. I used to be able to sit and research for hours at a time and be perfectly happy; I don’t know when that changed.

After that first day I decided that a 500 word a day target was slightly more realistic. It was, and on my writing days I managed to achieve or surpass it, which made me feel a bit more confident. On non-writing days, I’ve been colour-coding. I very briefly started it just after I’d alphabetised my folders, and then promptly ignored it in favour of doing literally anything else. This week, with my shiny new pills and motivation, I blasted through the smaller of the two folders and have really gotten into the swing of it. A few weeks ago I settled on some likely chapter headings, I’ve assigned each chapter a colour and now I’m reading through all of my notes and post-it-ing according to theme. I’m hoping it’ll make my writing a lot faster, as I can just flick through my notes really quickly and find the most pertinent information. I’m wishing I’d been this organised from the start, but it took me ages to narrow in on what my chapters were going to be.

This week I also made myself a standing-desk:

It’s so much better for my back and it’s less depressing than being forced to sit hunched over for hours at a time. I bought an inflatable balance pad online – it means that you constantly readjust your posture, which is good for all of your muscles and spine. I think that’s had something to do with my positivity this week; it’s kind of fun wiggling around while you’re working.

Non-work-wise, on I spent a few hours getting stabbed with needles. But who can begrudge that when you end up with something as beautiful as this?

I’m determined to keep the motivation up this week too. I finally feel as though I’m getting somewhere.