Diary of a postgrad student – 5 stages of an assignment

I have not had to write essays for many years. Despite this, I have found myself in familiar territory with my current assignments. Let me share with you my 5 stages of doing an assignment

1. Confusion

When I am first given the assignment I have no idea what they want. It makes no sense and I think that there is no way I can ever produce the quantity of words and get a decent grade. I look around the room and everyone else looks like they understand it. Just me then. Another example of how I don’t fit in here.



2. Denial

Ok. There is no way I can do this. I can’t even look at it. I don’t even know where to start. I play on the Xbox and post on Facebook about how I will never be able to do this. My friends give me tips and advice on where to start, and reassure me that I am more than capable of doing this.


3. Despair

I have good friends, so I believe them and set about writing the essay. I don’t know where to start. I feel like I am lifting a rock up and millions of bugs are scuttling out which I am supposed to follow but I can’t possibly follow each one. I put titles on the page so I have some structure. Then I worry if I can use titles. I’ve never written this sort of paper before. How do I even get the ‘voice’ right? I read lots. I lose the will to live. I write some random sentences.


4. Production

I get my head down and start writing. All the stuff starts to come together in a sort of structure. I get frustrated at interruptions; clients, making the family dinner, learning about the latest antics of the characters my daughter has made in The Sims. Everything is a distraction. I keep writing and finish the paper. I submit the essay.


5. Self-doubt

I read and re-read the rubric. Have I done everything? Have I totally missed the point? Is my lack of attention to detail going to mean I have made stupid mistakes? Will I fail my Masters because I don’t know how to write an essay? Should I go back and re-do all the references? Is that percentage on Turnitin ok? Did I reference correctly? Oh my god, I’m going to fail my Masters.


I suspect this will be the same pattern with all assignments. It certainly has been with the 2 I’ve written so far. And it will be 10 times worse when it comes to submitting my dissertation.

Are these the same stages that you go through or is it just me?

Written by:

Hi, my name is Dawn Walton and I am a 44 year old therapist that lives in the Dundee area. I'm originally from Anglesey in North Wales, but I've lived here for 17 years. My first degree was in Computing at UMIST in Manchester. Now I'm studying a Masters in Psychological Research Methods with the aim of going on to do a Phd.

I love Starbucks and Pokemon Go. So they are likely to feature in my posts quite often!

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