Writing a thesis. Location location location.


After years of having experiments dictate the schedule of my life, it’s odd to be able to pick up and do my work any time and anywhere. All that’s required after all is my brain and my laptop. What I haven’t yet settled on is my favourite “anywhere”, so I’ve been trying out various locations to see which promotes maximum focus and minimum despair.

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With one week left what would you do?

I’ve retrospectively changed some of the titles of my previous posts. I noticed a bit of an apocalyptic theme: “The beginning of the end” etc. There is definite irony in that, considering my decision to take a break from my PhD was based on my sudden realisation that quitting my PhD wouldn’t actually be the the end of the world (you’d be surprised how long I spent feeling that this was the case).

Having made the decision to break for a while, I had a week in the lab whilst paperwork etc. was going through with the University (and waiting until January’s stipend was safely in my bank account… just in case). I wasn’t really sure what to do with my time. Start writing my masters thesis? The strange thing was, once faced with a countdown to my separation from it, the lab started to become an exceptionally appealing place to be. I knew a week wasn’t long enough to do a whole experiment and so it became the forbidden fruit (yes, the lab!).

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To quit or not to quit (my PhD)?

Well, this is it: the beginning of my blog and potentially the (premature) end of my PhD. Strange place to start? Possibly.

Up until a few days ago I was a third year life sciences PhD student in the midst of what The Thesis Whisperer has so fittingly termed “the Valley of Shit”. That was until I quit. Well, sort of. Technically I’m on “a break”. How much of a break this actually is I’m not sure yet. At the moment I’m using the time to research potential careers and to put together all my data in an attempt to make an MPhil out of it (oh, and to start a blog, play my piano/guitar, watch Greys Anatomy and generally procrastinate).

At some point though, I’m planning to take a proper break from science. If I’m stuck for something to do, I might head out to the Alps and spend a month working as a chalet host and snowboarding all day long (going up a mountain to get out of the Valley of Shit!). The problem with that plan is, I doubt if there’s any coming back from it. I imagine if (heaven forbid) I decide I’d quite like to finish my PhD, it would probably be too late – I doubt if my brain would allow me to voluntarily subject myself again to 7 day working weeks filled with constant fear of failure. That’s probably a good thing.

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