Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Diary of an Honours Student, Week 7

Today, I broke my bag.

This is probably why:

I had at least four more of those in my bag today.  Plus a travel coffee mug.  Plus a notebook.  Plus a pencil case.  Plus an elephant.  This photo was actually taken a few weeks ago and there has since been a new pile of books added which actually sits in front of this lot.

The strap on my bag completely split.  There was a red fibre in the centre of the strap that resembled a pipe cleaner.  Who knew?

I go to a chiropractor regularly, so I know how bad this must be for my back.  I don't LIKE walking around with most of my weight balanced on one hip and I don't like having to play tetris every hour to fit new things into my bag, so I should probably get more organised.  More about that in a minute.

There are two things I wanted to tell you all (that's right, all three of you :P) today.

The first is about how my topic has changed.  Do you remember this?  Well, since I wrote that, my topic has changed somewhat.  Topics do that.  Depending on the source material available to you etc etc, inevitably you find that your initial assumptions are slightly off, and you discover new threads of things that you would like to pursue.  So.  My new topic is: What is the significance of historical fiction to the Western Australian literary imagination.  Do with that what you will, just don't fight me about it coz I can be feisty.

The second is probably a little more fun. Or not, depending on how stressed you are.


1) Honours is a self directed learning project.  Your supervisor might tell you what you are expected to have done by a certain point but they will largely leave that sort of stuff up to you.  They most certainly will not tell you how many books you are supposed to have read by a certain point.  If you start to feel a little like you're behind (make a judgement call), then sit down and work out what point you believe you need to be up to.  Make a list of all the parts of your project.  Make a timeline.  Set a goal.  Making a list and dividing your project into chunks not only helps you progress, it helps you feel like you're making progress.

2) Cut out unnecessary activities.  No you may not pick sleeping or eating.  Maybe you don't watch the latest episode of New Girl on Sunday night.  Maybe you put off reading an unrelated book.  Maybe you make a raincheck on seeing your friends.  When you have caught up again, you will enjoy these things more because you will be able to focus.  Treat something you really enjoy as a reward and reschedule it for after.  

3) Schedule your time.  Don't procrastinate.  Know that you will have time to work on the things you need to each day, and when you have to work, be in class etc.  Do not underestimate the value of a diary.

4) Get some perspective.  Feel like you're behind?  Talk to other students about where they're at.  Remember, it's not a competition, but everyone is struggling just as much as you are.  Ask for tips and tricks, ask for feedback, ask for someone to listen.  And realise that you're doing okay.

5) Relax.  Stress doesn't help.  You can't force good writing and you can't make yourself understand something you're too tired or too upset to read.  Make sure you take long walks by the river, or bubble baths or have a glass of wine barefoot on the balcony.  If you feel good, so will your thesis.

I hope this helps.  I have to go and do step one now myself.

Before I go, just wanted to give a quick thanks to everyone who is reading this blog and supporting it.  I was really chuffed to receive a message the other day from an ex-teacher offering support in response to something he'd read here.  If you are reading this blog, just leave me a comment on this post to say hi, so I can know you're there.

1 comment:

  1. you need to listen to your own advice :-)

    btw - you never really did get back to the bit about getting more organised - or did you?

    Oh and I am not a robot - well not that I know of.


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