Monthly Archives: April 2016

Reading for Pleasure – a Journey

Reading has always been one of my greatest pleasures.  I can remember the moment I learnt to read, how the story progressed from word to word and over the page to the end.  I used to get lost in different worlds, different situations and become different people.  I was lucky to grow up with adults who also loved reading and encouraged me by lending books and making recommendations.  I read quickly, devouring words, pages and books like my days are numbered.  I read quickly at the beginning of a book, desperate to get the heart of the story, to that point where I can’t put a book down, then I slow down, eager to make the story last.  I can read two books a day if I put my mind to it.  I have a friend who would buy me books regularly, he would always buy the biggest, thickest book he could to see how long it would last me.  If it went more than two days he considered it a successful purchase.

I lost the ability to read novels when I was studying for my undergrad.  Reading, although still enjoyable, was more to do with understanding theory and concepts.  I felt guilty if I read a novel, as I felt I should be spending more time reading something academic.

Then I lost the ability to write, and even think.   I also lost the ability to follow programmes on Radio 4.  I could watch television, programmes that I did not have to watch from the beginning.  I could watch Law and Order from halfway through and it didn’t matter, I was still able to follow the plot.  In the last couple of weeks television has lost its appeal to me, I am bored by it, so I picked up my Kindle and I began to read.  I read a novel, then another.

I also began writing today.  Not much, but it is a start.  I wrote three pages, it took me a while but I am quite pleased with it.  I started by writing bullet points, then sentences and now I have ended up with a number of paragraphs.  I have a plan for the next few weeks and I feel good about this.  I will take my time, I can’t rush this and cause my brain to shut down again.

Anyway, I have to go, I have a book I want to finish.



Regaining my Confidence

There is no doubt that my confidence in my abilities has decreased.  I still feel that my subject and thesis are important, but I have doubted my ability to actually complete the thesis to a reasonable standard.  I am aware that this is a stage that many PhD students progress through, but this is the first time that I have ever doubted myself to such a degree.

I sit down to write, I can visualise the page in front of me, I can see what I want to write, I start to write and it all becomes foggy.  The words slip away from me and I lose the structure, the flow and my voice.

I have tried to combat this by planning, lots of planning, but it just becomes apparent that I feel very confident about certain sections of my literature, even some sub sections, but some critical parts I have no confidence in my ability to discuss the issues.  When I write a plan in order to help with this some sections are strong, read well and I feel are up to the standard required.  The rest is blurred, I plan how to write them and re plan, change the structure, change the order, copy and paste.  Nothing feels right and it all becomes nonsense.

I am aware that is all in my head.  I am indecisive, I need to make a decision and stick with it.  I need to be confident in my abilities, my work and my opinions in order to make this work.

I am currently at the BSA conference in Birmingham.  Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation on some work I have collaborating on.  I will be discussing methodology, Web scraping and graphical representations of data.  I am very excited to be doing this, there is nothing I like more than discussing my work and my findings.  Furthermore, the presentation tomorrow will go some way to rebuilding my confidence.