PhD and Viva Needs

The wonderful Jennifer Polk@FromPhDtoLife on Twitter, and someone you should definitely follow – prompted a neat little discussion a few months ago by asking “What do you need to be creative?

This got me thinking at the time about what I need to do this daily blog, which I could summarise as:

  1. My little book of ideas – where I capture ideas for posts
  2. A plan for a few weeks ahead of which posts will go on which days
  3. A “routine” for how/when I write – start of the week for first drafts; end of week for polishing
  4. Cups of tea!
  5. Creative stimulus – I need to keep my eyes and ears and brain open and carry my book around with me to capture ideas
  6. A deadline – a new post has to go out every day, but I tend to work at least ten days ahead. That time pressure works for me!

But not all of these are true needs. I need a certain level of caffeination, but I don’t really need a cup of tea next to me when I write. That’s more about ritual. I have a plan, but sometimes I get to a writing day and realise “I don’t think I have a handle on that topic today, I’ll have to write something else.” And then I have to.

What did you need to do your PhD? Which of those were real needs, and which were things that helped?

Which of them do you still need, in either sense, to help you prepare for your viva? And what else might you need?

These might seem like odd questions to ask, but your research didn’t just happen. Consciously or otherwise, you made the environment to help the work happen. What environment do you need now to help you be ready for your viva?