Lost all interest after my viva!!


This has probably been posted a million times so apologies but I'm looking for advice or similar experiences.

I basically wrote my entire thesis in 8 weeks around my other commitments (I work full time, have a part time voluntary job and my PhD is FT), I was working on it every spare minute of every single day for that period and then had a few weeks off before my viva. Long story short, my viva was absolutely hellish and I received major corrections (I wasn't surprised but it still didn't feel good). I received the report from the examiners 6 weeks ago and there is so much work to be done for the corrections that I just can't face it. Every time I think about starting them it brings me out in a cold sweat, I've done the usual breaking it down into smaller goals and the pomodoro technique but I've just totally lost the drive that I had to get it done.

My husband has said if I want to call it a day then that's fine and if I want to get it done then he'll support me but it makes no difference to him, he saw how much stress I was under and how much I relaxed after submission and said he doesn't care either way. I seem to have a built in self-destruct/procrastination mode but also have a total fear of failure so I don't want to admit defeat and quit after getting to this point. So right now I seem to be stuck in limbo between having absolutely no interest in going back to my thesis or going back to that dark place mentally but not wanting to quit and sack it off so how do I move forward?

Has anyone else had major corrections and just wanted to throw the entire thing in the fire rather than start over? How do you get past it to make progress or would I be better off just leaving it and moving on?


I think most people have felt like this at this stage of the PhD, and I've no real advice other than one final push and you are done. I think in the long run you would feel gutted to have quit so close to the finish. You're doing the right things in breaking it down and doing short concentrated bursts of work. The only other thing I can suggest is rewarding yourself. Could you incentivise this with something concrete, like booking a holiday for the week after you are due to resubmit? Or a day doing something you love, when you've got to a particular point?


Thanks for your reply, I have tried that actually but I end up not doing the work and doing the thing anyway lol. I feel like I've spent so long at uni that now I've had a taste of freedom I've lost all the drive for why I started.

Avatar for rewt

Honestly I think corrections are the easiest part of the academic process. You do the corrections and it is good enough. No self doubt, no thinking if it is right or general imposter syndrome. They basically you are good enough for a PhD but you need to fix some things. The corrections don't need to be perfect but just do what they say. I think you should stop doubting yourself, give up on a perfect thesis and do the corrections.


I think it's the amount of work and the usual "don't know where to begin" that's putting me off. I sickened myself with my home office spending so much time in there during write up and I think I'm now associating that room with intense stress, now the thought of going in there just makes me feel sick, it's ridiculous though, I'm a grown ass woman (allegedly).

I need to re-write a few sections and add in more literature which is fair enough but I also have to restructure the whole thesis, they apparently didn't like my format so they want it re-jigged which means rewriting more sections to get it all to flow right again, I find editing harder than writing and want to just scrap it and start over but I can't really do that so instead I'm putting it off and frustrating myself wasting time.

Avatar for rewt

Do you think a change of scenery would help? Like could you start writing up in a cafe or a library or change the format of your study? As i have had the same problem with revision during undergrad, I started disliking the space because of the association with the activity. Becoming comfortable in your surroundings makes things easier.

Have you at least worked out how much you can keep. There might be a massive amount of work but look at how much you don't have to rewrite. Maybe if you start restructuring it you might think it is less than you initially thought. Anxiety can wreck you when you keep delaying an action until the point you have over-estimated the difficulty.


Hopefully that is true that it won't be as bad once I get started, the majority of it needs to be rewritten or restructured though. I have re-jigged my home office and bought a new desk chair but it hasn't helped so far.


Think of it as a tough job which needs time. I bet they have given you at least 6 months. Do you know why they have given you this time? Because it will take that long. The corrections are huge so the PhD was. It took you 3-4 years to reach this stage which looked too faraway at the beginning. The same applys now with corrections. Break it into weeks. If you have 20 weeks, you need to finish 5% every week. If you accomplish 2% the first week, you will be fine.
Just start. With the easies typo, grammar, figure correction, whatever is easy for you. Once you started, it will end. You can and you will do it. All the best.


Hi, Quitting is an easy option. However, in the future, you may regret your hasty decision. I do understand your feelings. It is hard to get back to your thesis once you have mentally decided it is done. My suggestion would be to take it in a positive stride and work gradually. Do not overwhelm yourself with unrealistic deadlines. Try completing a chapter or a part of the thesis in a day (depending on the type of corrections required). Take adequate breaks and work towards addressing the corrections suggested by the examiner. I am sure you will complete it well in advance. Also, most importantly, before you start your corrections, take a day off from all your work, and just relax. I usually read a novel or watch a movie before I start studying for my exams. Do something which you enjoy doing. Recharge yourself with positive energy and get going. I am sure you will be able to submit your corrected thesis in time. All the Best!


Quitting is not always an easy option or a cop out.
Not knowing when to quit can cause serious long term damage to a person.

In this specific case the OP will probably not quit but it's bad advice to use phrases like that in general.
It's one thing to find positives in a pile of negatives but it's quite another to force a positive attitude when there are no obvious positives in a situation. That is the road to bad mental health right there.


Quote From eng77:

It took you 3-4 years to reach this stage which looked too faraway at the beginning. Once you started, it will end. You can and you will do it. All the best.

That is a very good way of looking at it. Thank you!


You are absolutely right pm133, quitting would be the hardest decision to make and the not knowing when to give in is what has me worrying about it, the nature of my research is on traumatic childhoods and at one point during my writing up stage I genuinely felt like I was going mad - I just couldn't get these people's stories out of my head (made worse by the flashbacks and nightmares from my own childhood) and part of me thinks nothing at all is worth sending me back to that place mentally.

BUT I'm not a quitter and I would feel like an absolute failure if I did decide to quit, especially given the nature of the research and how important I think it could be. It's just a constant battle with myself over how much of my sanity I really want to sacrifice and also how bad I don't want to fail!

SShenoy - I think I will take your advice and have a total day off with no plans and no expectations and then try and make very small goals until I start to see some progress. Thanks x