April has been a very busy month to say the least and a rather pivotal one.  In the UK, PhD programmes are typically 36 months (or 3 years), full time.  April is month 32, meaning I have 4 months left to finish my thesis.

Photo Credit: Diane Hammond via http://dibytes.ca (Creative Commons)
Photo Credit: Diane Hammond via http://dibytes.ca (Creative Commons)

Actually writing those words is frankly terrifying. My thoughts at the time ranged from “No! 4 MONTHS?! Nah!” to “omgomgomgomgomgomg” to “F*** this ****! *********” to “I swear I had more time. MORE TIME!”

Famous last words, I guess.  Anyhow I’m feeling a little disconnected from the panic that is threatening to overwhelm me, like it’s just behind me.  I am very, very aware of it’s existence so I guess at this point I’m just trying to channel that energy into something more productive than the debilitating deer-in-headlights sort of feeling.  One of the ways I’m coping with the anxiety is getting a realistic view on what I need to get done, when.  In Eljee world this means getting iCal out and a mug of coffee (x 2).

Prior to submitting the actual thesis PhD students at my university are required to provide a “Notice of Submission” which is essentially a sort of contract in which you state the exact date you will submit.  “Will” being the focus here.  This needs to be given at least 6 weeks prior to the actual deadline which in my case is mid-July.  In practice what this means is that come mid-July I need to decide if I can submit on time (i.e. within the 3 years given for my programme) or if I need to apply for an extension (i.e. I need another 6 – 12 months to finish this).

Now before I can even get to this point I need to have an actual thesis in front of me.  Not just ideas or notes but proper words on page in an organised format.  The real deal.  It may not be pretty, but all of it has got to be there so that my supervisory team and I can decide if I can push to submit on-time or if I should apply for an extension. This decision can’t wait until the “Notice of Submission” deadline which means, I need to have a full thesis by mid-June.

I had this conversation with my main supervisor last week to which I found myself laughing hysterically.  Now, I consider myself a rather calm and collected individual (for the most part) so realising that I’m laughing, loudly (and and length, to the amusement of my supervisor), at the prospect of submitting a full thesis in a few week’s time was somewhat eyeopening.  I didn’t want to get upset at the enormity of the task (or face the feelings of inadequacy that seemed to surge to the surface) so I counted, backward, exactly 100 days to handing in a full draft of my thesis.

What my mind looks like when I'm writing (Image from http://goo.gl/sEgek)
What my mind looks like when I’m writing (Image from http://goo.gl/sEgek)

Today is day 97.  So far, I’m chipping away and making small but steady progress which seems to be working so far.  I’m an an excruciatingly slow writer so words don’t come easily and I’ve been struggling to meet my daily word counts.  I’ve been tracking my progress with #Acwri and update my supervisors regularly so I’m feeling less nervous at the moment. Here’s hoping next week will be better.

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