Apparently, much of a PhD is about writing, so say the tweeters and bloggers. Clearly, if it all ends with a 100k word thesis, then writing will need to occur. I can write when I need to, I’ve done Masters thesis and published articles, but I cant say at the end of the day I have a real desire to sit down and write…yet!
I suspect there are several reasons to get into a habit of writing regularly. Obviously to improve the skill and prepare me for the big thesis, but equally important, for me anyhow, is it will help synthesise my thinking. Having to type thoughts out (slowly) makes me process them all over again. Having to edit, makes me think. I am a slow thinker, and often my original thoughts can alter with further processing…
So how much do I need to write, how regularly and will this just become a diary? Answer – don’t know how much or how often, but maybe I’d guess a few paragraphs minimum weekly…and yes/no, diary of a Phd project, but nothing else (but I would like to mention I did a 10k run in 45:48 on the weekend!) This broadcasting media still makes me feel slightly uncomfortable as you may tell from my frequent re-tweets and inability to original tweet…soon that may change.
So to my PhD. My supervisor has the very first rough draft of a lit review for my Stage 2 proposal (a requirement at QUT to demonstrate I have the wherewithal, support and resources to move forward wrapped up in a succinct 3600 word structured document including a lit review) and we will discuss it tomorrow.
The challenge was to get it into the word limit, cover my areas of interest, provide some history, context and refer to some of the major articles, whilst at the same time tell a story and make it flow. Possibly failed at first attempt in most of those areas, but its a start.
Sometimes when I start writing I dont have a plan. I just need to start writing and the plan will eventually play out in front of me.
Anyhow, to finish, here is a quote I will use more than once in the next few years. It seems a little childish in its simplicity, but it is from a man who was ahead of his time, whose texts I studied cover to cover and paper I poured over in my early days in infection prevention with several mentors, and who, unbelievably now, I had the pleasure of meeting once when he visited our hospital. Richard ‘Dick” Wenzel.
“There may be infection control with without surveillance, but those who practice without measurement, practice without one of the major tools of science …they will be like the crew of an orbiting ship travelling through space without instruments, thus unable to identify their current bearings, the probability of hazards, their direction or rate of travel.”
Wenzel R. Is There Infection Control Without Surveillance. Chemotherapy 1988; 34: 548-52.