September 6, 2012 by researchertransitions
This time last year I had just come out of my PhD viva! Yikes. I can’t believe how time has flown…and how little I’ve done with my PhD. It sits on my shelf, alongside various books I used during my studies (and some I never got round to reading, and some I read FOR FUN – yes, since the PhD I have rediscovered reading for fun!)
However, not a word of it has been published. I haven’t even submitted an electronic copy to the library (I aim to finally do this today!) My examiners gave me great advice on publishing and lots of encouragement – I said I’d take a few months break then seriously consider publishing. Now it is a whole year later! Is it too late? Do I even want to? Would it be a waste not to?
I didn’t publish during my PhD because the prospect caused stressed me out. I wasted at least one summer tying myself in knots over a potential publication that I never finished. Ironically for someone in the process of writing an 80 000 word document, I had developed a fear of writing, or at least, a fear of writing for publication. It was my own fault. I’d been given good advice from my Masters supervisor – ‘write every day, then you get started early and it’s not a big deal’ – but had not followed it. My PhD supervisors and peers had told me to publish early, but after a thwarted early attempt (a chapter accepted for a book, but the book never ended up getting published) it was all too easy to let it slip. Writing became rather scary and if I had to spend large amounts of time doing it, my morale plummeted. I think I only managed to write my PhD because of deadlines set by supervisors (I’m one of those people who is motivated by deadlines and likes to get things in on time) and the enjoyable distractions of teaching, internships, conference attending/organising and meeting inspiring people who gave me the energy.
So do I want to publish now? And why am I blogging about it? Have I got over the fear of writing for public consumption?
Hmmm well, maybe. We were encouraged to blog at work recently and found myself starting to enjoy it. I passed a publishing milestone when I submitted a book which I’d edited and written a short intro for…very scary, but ultimately a fun experience (I should note that I haven’t got feedback from the publisher yet, so it still could get scary!) And now I’ve started to blog. So we will see. I might start to publish…if not on my PhD research on my new interests as a careers adviser for researchers, and if not in academic journals, maybe in journalistic outlets. Watch this space!