Having free time while doing a graduate degree is pretty much the stuff of myths. During my Master’s program, I remember daydreaming about being able to read for fun and thinking wistfully about all the times I had taken sleeping a full eight hours for granted.
Starting a blog during that period would have probably been akin to To Do list harakiri.
Or, at the very least, it would have made it collapse under its own immense weight. I barely had time to go grocery shopping; the thought of me sitting down and writing posts not immediately applicable to my classes or thesis was absurd. Just thinking about it makes me wish that a graduate school Time-Turner existed.
I know I was not and will never be the only graduate student in these hectic, over-caffeinated circumstances. But this Scientific American piece from 2013 argues that not only should graduate be encouraged to blog, but they should also consider writing about topics that fall outside their usual fields of interest.
While the article itself is a bit TL;DR, I find it well-written and worth a read. The author’s main point boil down to this: engaging in “popular writing” (as opposed to “academic writing”) forces students to not only take information from a variety of sources and disciplines, but to also get the point across quickly and concisely. It widens not only the piece’s audience but also hones the student’s ability to research, synthesize and compose- all necessary components of a successful graduate school career.
Other blogs both echo the conclusions drawn by the Scientific American article and highlight alternative benefits of blogging while under the influence of graduate school. Pat Thompson argues that her blog and academic writing have become almost one and the same over the years; the distinction between “popular” and “academic” writing is blurrier than when she started. The University of Edinburgh and Thesis Whisperer point out that blogging is an effective way to simultaneously network and pad your CV for the post-Master or PhD job market.
Even though the thought of maintaining a blog was enough to make my overworked Master’s-era self shudder in fright, I recognized the advantages and daydreamed of a time when it would be time table-y feasible.
It’s a good way to reflect on all of the new theories and information dumped on students during lectures, and writing as you go can help serve as a compass during the hysterical first-thesis-draft-is-due-tomorrow phase.
Planning and drafting the eskola txikiak series has enabled me to revisit and think about my Master’s thesis in a new light. Compiling entries for the Case Studies series has forced me to walk a mile in an editor’s shoes, as well as learn about other people’s graduate school experiences in Spain. To say nothing of the #PhDTag series, where I was not only able to connect with other PhD women around the world and across disciplines, but also work through my answers to other people’s burning academic related questions.
Plus it’s great productive procrastination.
What do you think about balancing graduate school with maintaining a blog? Is it a useful academic tool or only for the overachieving masochistic?
**Scholar Escolar is now on Instagram. Take a look if you enjoy gratuitous coffee pictures and the occasional pun.