I’ve seen relief on the face of PhD candidates when I tell them they don’t need to prepare for their viva until after submission. That in itself helps to frame the scale of the challenge. I also emphasise that viva prep is building on the talent and work that has been created over the course of the PhD.
Thinking about this, I’m reminded of the song “Scales and Arpeggios” from near the beginning of Disney’s The Aristocats: little kittens singing about the importance of practice over the long-term. You do the basics again and again and become proficient. You lay the groundwork for later success by working to get good. You do the work, you learn the skills because there is no other way to get the work done, no other way to achieve what you want.
As your viva gets closer, think about the basics you’ve mastered and the talent you’ve made on them: the skills you’ve created through research and learning. After submission, prep is a small bit of work, highlighting all the years of practice and what they’ve created.
And finally, do check out “Scales and Arpeggios” – it’s such a lovely song! Sure to lift preparation spirits! 🙂