• alicjapawluczuk

It's just like getting back to running // RE:starting my literature review after a short break.


Returning to a big chunk of text your wrote just before your holiday is both exciting and scary. For the purpose of this blog, I will call it a ‘literature-review-returns anxiety’.

I have just returned from a short, four days holiday break. I had a lovely time with my friends and family, who kindly accepted my constant #PhDchat. It seems like every other conversation we had, had something to do with my research (or at least I thought so!). Even though I was away from my desk, my literature review would still follow me around.

“Oh, I read an article about this” or “ I’ve seen something similar in…’ - my brain could not stop making all these unnecessary connections and references.

It feels like my research is always with me. It accompanies me on my holiday and sinks into my brains, even when I am not officially working. Some people call it ‘the thinking time’, essential during your PhD journey.

I decided to write this blog, as I am currently struggling with my post-holiday anxiety and am a bit worried about returning to my overwhelming amounts of literature review. I assumed that writing a blog post before going back into my sections, could be a good warm up exercise.

So here I am, thinking about my fear of returning to writing and thinking how it links into the other areas of my life.

Most of the time, I really enjoy being immersed into my reading and writing. It’s good for my mind and my soul. My writing/reading days make me happy and reassured about my passion for youth, digital and social impact.

Why do I find it so difficult to return to my work after a short break?

I guess it takes me some time to find myself in my text. At first, it feels like reading someone else's work ( which actually really helps me to take a fresh perspective on the stuff I’ve written). Once get over the initial warm-up reading, my ‘literature-review-returns-anxiety’ disappears and I’m normally back on track. The initial moment is always the hardest. It’s about going through my mental block and return to my ideas. In fact,I have a very similar experience with my running routine. I know that spending time exercising outdoors is very good for my overall physical and mental wellbeing. However, I often find it difficult to motivate myself event just to put my running shoes on. Again, it’s the first 10 minutes are that always the hardest - after that I can run for hours, loving every moment of it.

So how can I deal with my ‘literature-review-returns anxiety’?

Well, I still do not have a straightforward solution to the problem. The only way to force myself to go back to my writing zone is to disconnect. To start with, I switch of my wi-fi connection and open my documents library and text editor. It leaves me with no opportunities to cheat and properly and mindfully return to my written work. I guess it is similar to putting your shoes on. Once you have them on, it would be silly not to go for a run, right? So I guess it is all about taking the first step, forcefully if necessary. Once your first 10 minutes is done, things do get easier and more pleasant.

If you are still in need of extra motivation to get back to writing, take a look at this useful article.


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Dr Alicja Pawluczuk

Alicja’s research and community education practice focuses on digital inclusion, digital, and data literacy. She is a founding director of the digital inclusion and digital storytelling collective Digital Beez. Through the use of participatory, critical and multidisciplinary approaches, she aims to examine the power dynamics associated with the digital and data divides.

Alicja’s digital inclusion practice is rooted in the areas of democratic education and community development. She has extensive experience in digital inclusion community projects design, facilitation, and evaluation. Both her community engagement practice and her research are characterised by the use of experimental and interactive methodologies. Over the last 10 years, her work has been responding and changing in accordance with the contexts of digitalization of society. Alicja has a track record of peer-reviewed publications and cross-disciplinary public engagement activities. Both her research and practice are characterised with the use of experimental and creative methods. She has managed and contributed to digital literacy and digital inclusion and learning projects with the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and Erasmus.

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