Thoughts arising from the Writing Summer School

After spending all my four working days last week at the Summer Writing School I am now waaay behind… But I do genuinely feel like I have learnt some useful skills for dealing with writing issues, as well as making lots of new PhD friends who are in the same boat.

A couple of phrases kept repeating that are worth having a quick look at before I write myself this week’s to-do-list:

Kill Your Darlings: Great advice and something I always told the writers I worked with when I was a script editor.  But, as a huge geek, I tend to think of my darlings as potential zombies… there’s always a chance for resurrection.  When I cut a larger piece of text I put it in a ‘spare notes’ document, one for each writing project.  But what I have noticed is how rarely those darlings make it back from the grave… there is usually a reason why they had to die in the first place and no black magic is going to make them stagger back into my main document.

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Imposter Syndrome: Lots of people I spoke to at the Summer School were definitely displaying the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome: here’s the well written definition from PhD Confessional:

“Suffering from Impostor Syndrome.  For those unfamiliar with the term, here is a definition:

Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”

Many hadnt come across the term before, but I think at Cambridge its almost an endemic disease.  Cambridge can be a hive of supersmart people who never quite think that they fit in, and that the bee over there is doing so much better than them, and the one over there is coping so much better and being so much more productive than they are.  We constantly measure ourselves against each other, when really, when it comes to our PhD’s, we are all Queen (or King!) bees.  Some might realise that a PhD is not really for them, or an academic career isnt a good fit, but the actual work of getting a PhD is measured against what we can do, not what others can do.

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Two Body Problem: For some of the coupled up PhDs this can be a major problem.  Academia is a transient field these days and maintaing relationships and a career seemed to be problematic for a few people I spoke to.  I wish I had the answer. I have a husband and a son and I know there is going to be a crunch time when I have to choose between the awesome job and the right location for all of us.  Unless of course someone wants to pay me the big bucks and I can be the breadwinner for a while!

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Just some thoughts… 🙂

One comment

  1. […] Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. (Source: PhD Confessional quoted by Beth Singler) […]

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