I have recently come to the point in my PhD where I have finished with most of my archives and now have to concentrate on writing. This makes me quite sad – although I have looked at almost everything that I can, I wish there was more that I can look through because I really enjoy it. Sadly, there isn’t and now I have to turn my hand to writing. Sometimes I feel it is like getting blood from a stone – the writing doesn’t come naturally to me and I have to work really hard to make it happen. I have to work very methodically through each paragraph to make sure it makes sense, work through each sentence to check the style and generally just be really conscious of what I am writing. I have, however, found a new way of writing that seems to work for me. I don’t like working on the computer if I can help it so I try to work on paper as much as I can. First, I mind map my ideas for each paragraph/theme/section, then I write out a draft paragraph by hand split into ‘argument’ ‘evidence’ and ‘analysis’ sections, then I type. Usually I go through a couple of checks of each section, often reading out loud to catch crazy errors. It’s hard, time consuming work. But then I suppose if doing a PhD was easy then everyone would do one! The best thing I have found to motivate me so far is colourful pens. I love them and makes planning seem much more fun! So if you can’t think what to get me for Christmas – help my PhD and buy me a pretty pen!!