Plodding along…learning isn’t always lightning fast!

This week I have had a few ‘lightbulb’ moments. Thinking about my study and position as a Learner in this PhD journey has been hinted at in previous posts: like here, and here. I have been reading other blogs, attending #PhD chat when I can (this week the time and day changed so I used the wiki and twitter feed to read over later that evening), and actively talking with those around me about their study, techniques and journey.

I have also made definite strides in claiming back time to read and write, including attending a ‘shut up and write’ session run by my uni and trying ‘pomodoro’ time sessions for different tasks at different times. I found the ‘shut up and write’ session amazingly productive and one of my fellow PhD students, Violet, is planning on returning each week. I hope to go at least once a month at this stage. There is also talk of starting one in our graduate school (Ok, I started talking about it…but you will help too, won’t you Violet? LOL), to allow some other students and academic staff to reclaim space for writing.

The arrival of Patricia Goodson’s book, and my reading of the first two chapters helped to consolidate much of what my BB has been saying (probably for the last 18 months).  Patricia talks about protecting your writing time and making it a habit. BB has been sending me links and papers regularly and asking for my thoughts, encouraging the use of email and Evernote to communicate and push my articulation of ideas to a new level. My BB has been carefully, skillfully crafting my thinking of myself as a writer and academic for a long time now. She has been so supportive as a friend, generous with her time and in sharing her knowledge and expertise, and not just about conference packing! I have only just begun the PhD journey officially, BB and my second supervisor,  have given me the greatest gift: their confidence in me that I can learn this craft (of being an academic) and the support to be able to pick up and carry on when I do stumble. I hope they are not too disappointed that it has taken me this long to finally see myself in this light, sometimes I plod along slowly but I do get there!

I am writing this blog today with a new confidence, afforded by this new view of my identity as a ‘learner’ in this space. I am seeing my PhD for what it is, an apprenticeship in Academia, the space to practice, make mistakes and practice again. A sounding ground for my ideas as I move from being a Teacher to being an Academic. It is not a reality show where I have to ‘outdo’ the competition on a weekly basis or get voted out. It is a place I have earned a right to be, and a right and responsibility to learn all I can and try, try again until I produce my Thesis. I can see very clearly now the Thesis (while important) is another step in what will be a career in which I will never stop learning.

So what have I learned this week? That pomodoro writing and reading blocks work best for me to tackle tasks I need to begin, but that I see as too hard and so have been avoiding them. The pomodoro makes me focus; I don’t check my email, my phone or do any other tasks that pop into my head. I am always surprised at how much I get done and how ‘easy’ it is once I block the distractions for just one pomodoro. In the last two weeks I have used this method to free flow write approx 1,000 words (2 sessions), and then another session to edit my writing and tighten up the wording (1 session), by the end of this block of just 3 sessions I have written approx 1,500 words.  I write that not to gloat, but to remind myself what is possible if I stick to these methods. I may not do pomodoros all day, but using a few each week helps me feel like I am making great strides on multiple projects, and this is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment in itself.

So as I plod along this week and hope to write a more structured lit review, I wonder what light bulb moments have spurred you on in your own life, and even what stage of learning you see yourself at?

Until next week,

Fiona T

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