At some stage every PhD student ends up in Shit Valley.

You normally find yourself here around half way through the PhD journey. You’ll know you’ve arrived when everything you can see around you looks like it’s covered in shit.

You’re knee-deep in the data, you still don’t really know what’s going on and your levels of self-doubt are sky high. In front of you is a mountain of hard work – also covered in shit, incidentally – and behind you is a wake of unproductive drafts, wasted time and lots and lots of confusion. Nothing in your day to day life gives you joy any more and there doesn’t seem to be a way out, no matter how hard you look. Because you’re half way through your thesis when you get to Shit Valley, you’re about as far away from an exit point as you can be.

Shit Valley isn’t a nice place to be and nothing anyone tells you will make it any easier. It’s shit after all. Your workload is immense, you’re still figuring out what goes where, and you’ve got no motivation to do any of it.

But do it you must, because the only way out is to keep on journeying though. Have faith that you will – eventually – get out of the valley and that, when you do, your workload will be more manageable, you’ll start to know what you’re doing, you’ll have more motivation and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Keep ploughing on through, try not to look at all the shit around you and know that one day you’ll find the exit. I promise.

Good luck!