Today I am at BCU doing a writing exercise as part of my PhD student life! It’s interestingly titled ‘Shut Up and Write’ where fellow PhD students sit together and write un disturbed for the next two hours. We did agree on the ‘pomodoro technique’ , a time management method where you work at 25 mins intervals interspersed with short breaks.
I decided to write a blog, this blog. Admittedly not a strenuous exercise. Earlier in the day we had a session on ‘writing strategies’ where we discussed about different writing styles and generally how we find writing as PhD candidates. I’m relieved that I am not the only person struggling with academic writing – actually I find writing a bit of a chore most times, inspite of the fact that I know I articulate better in writing. I wish I can write seamlessly, eloquently or even coherently. I find I think in bullet points and I struggle to get words out at all. I worry that it is impairment based or that maybe its because I have not had enough rest. And then I get cross at myself, that it might be just an excuse on my part, a ruse for just not taking sufficient care to formulate the words as they should be constructed. Other times it gets so bad, I just wonder if I need an assessment for dyslexia!
Working in a language that is not your mother tongue can be a problem. However as I have done most of my formal education in English and that I am not really literate in another language, how can that be an excuse? But it is. I just know it is. I think it must be akin to that feeling of an adopted child, that there comes a point that you know in your bones, you don’t actually belong even if you fit every well into the culture.
Writing is for communication, it is also an art form, an expression, a cry or it can be a technical and creative enterprise. I can do short spurts I’d like to think I can write long essays but I lose stamina and I can get bored or tired. This is one of the reasons for signing up to do a phd. It is a challenge, to test those cerebral muscles – to keep them in tone. Having post polio syndrome (PPS) makes me worry about mental fatigue. And this is one of the hardest thing to explain: having a wheelchair is a visible impairment I do not need to explain the lack of access is a barrier but having PPS is not visible. How do you explain when you stumble on words that you should not have trouble enunciating, when you become incoherent and unable to construct a sentence or just plain forget your train of thought?
So embarking on this phd is my solo marathon. I hope to get to the finish line!