Week 36: cells and writing

It’s Monday again, which means I’ve now got 36 weeks left.

I’ve finally finished the most time-consuming of my plant experiments and only have one round of qPCR and an EdU-assay left (if you haven’t heard about the EdU-assay check it out). I’m postponing those experiments a few months to get a break from all the plant work and instead I’m starting on the other half of my thesis: gastric cancer.

I’m studying the anti-proliferative properties of certain plant compounds in gastric cancer cells. This basically means I’ll be subjecting the cells to different concentrations of the compounds and see how they respond (most likely: apoptosis and various forms of stress). Then I’ll try to figure out some of the mechanisms underlying these responses, for instance what apoptotic pathways are involved?

I’m very excited to begin the second half of my thesis as I’ve been struggling a bit with my motivation lately. It’s not that I don’t like the experimental work or the project any more, I just don’t have that spark right now. The main problem is that I need to get some (read: a lot of) writing done. I’ve been frustrated with the poor amount of writing I was able to do over the summer, and felt very much like this PHD-comic. In the end I turned the whole writing-thing into a huge problem and now I don’t want to do it at all.

I’ve been reading a lot about writing lately as I wanted some tips on how to “get into it” and produce a lot of text fast. The Thesis Whisperer has a lot of helpful and interesting posts on the subject, with my favorite being this – How to write 1000 words a day (and not go bat shit crazy). I plan to try out the Whisperer’s 1000 words-method sometime soon and hopefully get some writing done in combination with the cell experiments this week.

It seems to me that a lot of time is spent thinking about the writing process and how much I don’t like it. The important point is to get past all the thinking and complaining and just get started. One of my many how-to-write-books states that there’s no other way to get started than to just start: sit down and write something. It can be anything and doesn’t have to be any good as long as you’re producing some form of text. That’s partly why I’m blogging, to get into the habit of writing regularly and fast (although I hope it’s not all bad).

Honestly, I can’t believe that I got stuck on the writing so early in process or that I made such a big deal out of it. The 15th of May is still far, far away and I’ve got plenty of time to panic and get stuck a hundred times more. At today’s meeting my Supervisor (yes, with a capital S) gave me a long motivational speak and told me to give my head a break and then try to re-discover the “joy of writing”. To make it even better he suggested I start with the results section – the best part. In addition @BioNanoBoy (great guy who also helped me with my last exam, thank’s again!) also had some tips on how to get started.

After getting so much help it’s time to stop complaining and get writing. Week 36 is hereby dedicated to one tiny cell experiment – and a lot of writing!

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