Best of Viva Survivors 2021: Long Posts

The Viva Survivors review of 2021 continues with some of my favourite long posts from this year.

Most of the time my daily posts range between 100 and 200 words; occasionally I go a little longer. Here are five that will take more time to read but which hopefully also contain more for the extra words.

They’re a little more reflective in most cases; it’s been that kind of year I guess.

  • Still Interesting Times – a year on from my first post about the pandemic on the blog. I have a feeling there will be another post like this in March 2022 at the two year anniversary.
  • Solving The Prep Problem – a big post all about getting prep done!
  • The Missing Things – another post reflecting on how things have changed in the last few years and what you might need as a result.
  • The Essentials – a story from my journey as a researcher-developer and some questions to help unpick what you might need to get ready for the viva.
  • Space To Feel – a reflection on something important that has stood out to me more and more while delivering webinars.

More posts but fewer words tomorrow – I’ll share some of my favourite short posts from 2021.

The Essentials

Five years ago today I ran my first ever independent workshop.

I was so excited!

It was a big step: to go from being invited by universities to meet PhD candidates, now instead I was inviting them to meet me. I’ve done that a lot in the last year over Eventbrite and Zoom, but to hire a venue, to advertise, to think about everything that I would want or need if I were a participant – this was a really big stretch for me then.

It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

One of the things I was most delighted about, aside from the great venue that I found and the four people who took a chance to come to the event, was making goody bags. I wanted to give everyone who came a bag packed with everything they would need to help them get ready for the viva – and a few things that they didn’t need, but which would maybe give them a smile.

Goodybag contents

I made a print run of the books I had written, and gave ebook codes too; I designed and published a new guide to getting ready for the viva; I supplied stationery that would help, notebooks – plus a big bar of dark chocolate and a tote bag to carry it all in.

I loved putting all of this together – most of the contents were a surprise to the participants on the day, and the looks of delight at the goody bags I gave were some of my highlights of 2016.

Which leads me to ask three questions, two for you and one for me.

  • First, if your viva was coming up: what would you need in an essential goody bag to support you? What would you want? What would be nice? What would help you just that little bit more?
  • Second, if you have a friend with a viva soon: what could you do to give them a little boost? What practical things could help them get ready? What else could you do to make them smile?
  • And for me: what can I do with my Zoom sessions to bring a little of that surprise and delight that I loved so much in my very first independent seminar?