Ten years ago I got into a PhD programme. I was incredibly lucky to be fully funded by my university: they covered my living costs and tuition fees. In return, I had to teach EU law seminars to undergraduate students. Given that I was a university lecturer in Azerbaijan before I moved to England, I was excited about this aspect of the programme. It was the idea of finishing my 80,000-word thesis that was daunting.
On my induction day, I realised other students were overwhelmed by this prospect too. Academic staff banged on about the importance of staying on track and completing a thesis on time. Apparently, the completion rates of PhD programme weren’t great. I heard a lot of advice on that day: some went straight over my head, some I hung on to for dear life. The best advice was given by someone who’s done the same programme a few years before me.
‘It’s very tempting to put all your attention on teaching. You get immediate gratification from interacting with students. There’s an on-going feedback mechanism embedded in teaching, because you have a sense of how well you are doing. You don’t get that with your PhD thesis until the very end. It’s easy to prioritise teaching. Do teaching well, but don’t get lost in it.’
I followed this advice consistenly and it meant that I completed my PhD a few months before the deadline (and passed my viva without a single correction).
Now years later, I realise that the same dynamic applies to blogging and writing a book. It’s so much nicer to engage with the blog readers, than keep editing and improving on my manuscript. I came to realise that without striking the right balance, my book may be on a backburner for a long time. Although I thoroughly enjoy blogging and connecting with my amazing readers, it’s time for me to spruce up my manuscript and put it out into the world.
Earlier this month, after completing the April A to Z blogging challenge, I asked for your advice – what do you like on my blog, what would you like more or less of. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to reflect and respond here. The key messages I got from your responses was ‘Quality over quantity.’
So, I’m cutting back.
I’m closing down The Story Behind The Story series. In the last few weeks, I’ve asked a couple of people to contribute to the series. When they are ready, I’ll be happy to publish their posts, but it’s not going to be a weekly feature anymore. No more flash fiction either, I’m afraid. I enjoyed trying it out, but it’s not my thing. My aim is to post once or maximum twice a week. I’d like to find and maintain a pace I can sustain for many years to come.
Another important piece of news: over the summer, I’ll be moving to a self-hosted site. Please, stay tuned.
Last but not least, I’m taking a week off next week to recover from the intensity of exam marking. See you all in June.
As always, thank you for reading.