Word Count: Zero

One of the questions I have about my PhD research is when to start writing proper.  I have been immersing myself in books since term began – something which is expected of me, I’m sure – but haven’t yet written anything of my own.  Yes, I’ve spent many computer hours typing up quotes and working on my annotated bibliography, but when will it be time to actually put pen to paper (or, more likely, fingers to keyboard) and start writing?

IMG_7440.JPGI’ve been thinking about this a lot of late, and haven’t really had guidance from my supervisors in when I should begin.  A lot of the staff members who have spoken to us en masse at various inductions have told us to keep writing throughout, but how do you pick a starting point?

I have thus come up with my own schedule of sorts.  I’m aiming to begin penning a random chapter over the Christmas break, probably a reworking of my MA dissertation, where I talked about both Woolf texts.  It’s not a necessity to do so until I have my yearly appraisal in April/May next year, but for my own benefit, I’d really like to know that I’ve read and learnt enough thus far to actually write a coherent, structured chapter.

For those of you who are studying or working on similar projects, when do you know when it’s time to write?  Do you wait from guidance from those in authority, or do you try and write throughout, and then sift through your words to pick out what’s most useful for your final project?


5 thoughts on “Word Count: Zero

  1. I am in the process of applying for a PhD, and starting the proposal is also quite problematic, because, while I do have the idea in my head, I feel like there is so much relevant research out there that I could go on reading forever, only to make the right decisions on how I approach this proposal!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, that’s one of the problems which I had too, Diana! I found it useful to cite about ten examples of previous criticism which will be invaluable to your project; that way, it shows you know your stuff, but doesn’t read simply as an annotated bibliography. Best of luck with your application!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also having similar problems deciding when to stop reading and start writing.. Unfortunately, supervisors aren’t very clear about setting these separating lines for us (and I think it works differently for each person anyway). Although I haven’t written anything near as big as a dissertation yet (oh, I’m so dreading the time I will have to!) I find myself drowning even when trying to compose 4000 word essays (like now). I tend to want to read as much as I can beforehand, since I feel that knowing your subject very well is essential, but that results in me miscalculating my remaining time for writing :/ And reading material is truly endless..
    To sum up, I’m not at all a good person to give advice on that matter, since I fail to organise even myself 😛 I think your plan sounds brilliant though, and it will help you also in stress managing when the time to panic over written/unwritten stuff arrives! 😉


    1. Thanks so much, lovely! Hopefully we can both fall into a pattern that suits us. I agree that reading material is endless; is it just me, or do you pick up a book or article thinking ‘this is the last thing I’ll read for this essay, and I’ll start writing soon’, and then it leads you onto several more books which seem of the utmost importance to include?

      Liked by 1 person

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