Like last time, I'm mindful that many of you will find this stuff quite familiar. Perhaps because you've done a PhD yourself (or any degree for that matter) - or maybe because you're just interested! If so please don't hesitate to get in touch. I'd love to know how you've reflected on your experiences. Comment below, 'like' us and comment on Facebook or get hold of us on Twitter!
Here we go then... part two :)
 Timetabling is an awesome habit.
Oh, and yes, I said 'hours'. I'm not just talking about timetabling your days, but your time during the day as well. By the time my viva rolled around I could tell you exactly how long it would take me to write 500 words of casual/concentrated writing. Exactly how long it would take me to read an average page. And so on. This aspect of doing a PhD is so seldom communicated: you don't just get to know your subject better, you get to know you better. And no, not in the 'finding yourself' sense, but in the, "I've spent an unacceptably long amount of time with myself and I know all my irritating temptations, tolerances and tendencies", sense.
So that's where you'll probably arrive at - but it's worth starting now, if you haven't already. Plan your months, days and hours so as to save your sanity.
 Timetabling is a horrible habit.
The problem with making a timetable is that it's a bit like a drug. Or a Palantír. Ha. Let's use a Lord of the Rings analogy, just because I can. Like Tolkien's Palantír, constructing a timetable let's you see things far afield. Events way in the distance. Specifically a schedule allows you to see the finish line. You see the moment, even if through a glass darkly, when you'll punch the air / sleep / eat / breathe. That celebratory moment when the word count is tallied and the document gets sent.
"What's the problem with that?", I hear you ask. Well, it doesn't have to be a problem. But what if you get interrupted? What if the book you're reading takes longer than normal to read, or it's especially difficult to process? What if a certain paragraph calls for concentrated writing, something you couldn't possibly have foreseen? Well ... then things get ugly. You break the schedule. Everything else gets delayed or pushed back. And that is usually a soul-crushing moment.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't schedule; you obviously should. It's still a good idea. I'm just saying that your planning needs to be tempered by reality. In my early days my schedules were often hopeless naïve. ("Finish full PhD draft in six weeks", said I, just 18 months after starting.) It's one of those things my Dad has said over the past few years, that a PhD is a marathon not a sprint. He's definitely right. My advice, therefore, would be to schedule accordingly - accommodating for delays and adjusting your expectations.
Because, as 'everyone' knows (obviously), a Palantír may show you the truth, but it almost always leads you to the wrong conclusion. So there you go. You've just been Tolkienated.
 Writing 100K words is frighteningly possible.
Turns out, that's really sort of true. Granted, a PhD isn't a collection of essays. (A thesis, after all, must be one cogent piece of work.) But in terms of the actual effort required it's an accurate description. Given this and the amount of time you're allowed to finish a PhD, it's frighteningly easy to get to 100k words. (As the screen capture above demonstrates!)
I guess this lesson is two-fold. First, don't panic - yes, it's a mountain, but you climb a mountain step-by-step. Second, don't compensate. It's tempting to think "Oh boy I've gotta get to 100k" and just waffle on hoping that the final tally will be enough. But trust me: the material will come. Focus on making your current task as good as possible, regardless of the little number at the bottom of the screen, and the rest will fall into place. You'll be surprised how quickly, too.
 You'll forget more than you know. (And you'll hate it.)
It's then that you realise: you've forgotten more than you presently know! All those anecdotes and stories and data points and dates and names and theories and concepts and reminders and shades of truth - all disappeared from view. There's a lesson within a lesson here. (Call it 'Lesseption'. You know, if you want.) It's a good idea to establish a semi-regular habit of going through old notes and papers and lectures. For example, every few months I like to go through my old master notes and powerpoint presentations from when I was lecturing. It helps to refresh my memory of the basic foundations as well as old emphases and concepts. Revision like this will probably help you, too.
 Keep moving.
 Academic community will be helpful...
When I say, 'I'm coming to realise this', that should alert you to the fact that I have so far struggled to do so. Indeed, when I began my PhD I had every intention to attend research seminars and public lectures but eventually life got in the way. I got engaged and eventually married. We had family problems, and then housing problems, and then health problems.
These were genuine distractions, but there were genuine excuses too. The PhD student can easily succumb to this sort of laziness on account of the self-directed nature of her task. All I'm saying now is: don't do this. Go to seminars. Go to lectures. They may be optional but that doesn't make them any less important. They exist for your flourishing.
 ... But friendship is a necessity.
When I was researching this particular point I did a quick Google search for 'friendship', and the result made me feel a little bit queasy. It seems that 'friendship' has become synonymous in the popular consciousness with carpet time and kitchens. What do I mean? Well, we either approach friendship as if we were children being told how important it is to be 'nice to one another', or we approach friendship as if its meaning can be captured by one of those horrendously nauseating fridge magnets. (You know what I'm talking about.) The truth is, I think we've forgotten something. Barth and Thurneysen; Lewis and Tolkien; Calvin and Farel; Luther and Melanchthon; David and Jonathan. History is replete with examples of friends who, in the words of Scripture, did not "play at friendship" but in fact were "closer than brothers" [Prov 18:24]. History bears witness that the popular understanding is insufficient to describe this.
When it comes to your PhD, therefore, allow me to propose that friendship is invaluable. I wrote in Part One about how I've learned that my friends & family love me. I've also been nourished by my friendship with Owen and Aaron, the two other collaborators of this blog. They're even mentioned by name in my doctoral acknowledgements. However, I've not only learned that friendship provides a place of love, but also a place of safety. You can escape to your friends with all your frustrations and uncertainties and insecurities. [See Prov 17:17.] Friendship provides a place of prayer. You can petition God together, asking Him for His blessing, relief and help. Friendship provides a place of sharpening. Just as Tolkien shaped Middle Earth from the encouragements of the Inklings, so you will shape your arguments and understanding at the behest of your friends. [See Prov 27:17.] Finally, friendship provides a place of courage. When as a fledgling academic you make a stand for something (as described in Part One), you will find brothers-at-arms who are willing to stand and fight with you.
Friendship is not about childhood platitudes or sentimental fridge magnets. Friendship is about brotherhood. And PhDs prosper when forged in friendship.
 Attend. Ask a question. Go to the bar.
Granted to a large extent this is possibly explained by Number #24 on our list (see below). But it's still worth 'naming'. Of course, some aren't bothered by conferences at all. And thats genuinely great. Good for them. But I simply lack the confidence. And yet, despite this, I think it's important to go anyway. So what gives? Why should you do this difficult thing? Well, first, doing what you don't want to do - but know you need to - is character building. Second, academic conferences prepare you for the to-and-fro of academic life. Third, they offer an opportunity to sharpen your understanding with peers from across the world. But for me there's an even more important reason. I once was complaining about attending a conference the night before I had to leave. My wife then asked me (proving once again that she's wise as well as lovely): "Is Jesus worth this difficult thing?" And the answer is always 'yes'. It's possible to attend conferences not on your own commissioning, nor on your supervisor's, nor on the academy's - but on the King's. And that changes everything.
So once you're there, what do you do? Ask a question. Don't just sit in a seminar and say nothing - participate. Write notes and then ask something of the speaker. Especially if you're in a short paper session; there's nothing worse than delivering a 20 minute piece only to then hear the sound of crickets. Then, go to the bar. Don't retire to your room and watch Doctor Who on your iPhone (not that I've ever done this), but go to the bar and be brave. I am absolutely terrible at these things. Indeed, I've learned these particular lessons the hard way - by failing. Do yourself a favour and don't repeat my mistakes!
 The Black Dog doesn't discriminate.
Like many thousands of people, I suffer from depression. Just as for many thousands of people, it's reductive to identify any one cause or trigger. And like many thousands of people, I've had several courses of anti-depressants in the hope that this 'black dog' (as Churchill called it) will one day go away. Indeed, the historians among you will be aware that depression is not a recent invention, even though we have, in recent years, advanced in our understanding and treatment of it. Quite the contrary: depression has existed for centuries. Some called it 'melancholy'. Others called it their 'dark night of the soul'. But for all of them it was as dark and as real as it is for anyone today.
The black dog does not discriminate. He doesn't discriminate against the centuries, nor does he discriminate against gender, or sexuality, or nationality, or class. And indeed - most importantly for our purposes - he doesn't discriminate against education. Many in history who are known to have suffered depression were highly educated people, and today, depression is on the rise in academia. The shade of the Tree of Knowledge provides such poor relief.
So know this, student. Know this. Be aware of this. Account for this and prepare for this.
Establish lines of communication with friends and family and those in your Church.
Use that God-given objectivity that so helps you with analysis & evaluation, to examine yourself.
Mental health issues are normal, so go see a Doctor at the first sign of anything strange.
 Save as if your life depended on it.
Of course as long as you're in regular conversation with your supervisors, it's technically possible that you could archaeologically 'recover' your doctorate from email attachments, in the event of a catastrophe happening. But even that's not guaranteed. Trust me, it's worth investing in at least a Flash Drive as well as those three cloud servers mentioned above. Could you imagine how many tears you'd shed if it all went to the great tech shop in the sky?
 Thank your viva examiners.
As far as 'viva horror stories' go, mine doesn't really count. Still, it was disappointing, both for myself, my friends & family, and my supervisors. There's another emotion at work too. The whole point of a viva is that it's a 'living voice', an interview between (potentially) peers. You're meant to intellectually fight for your work. So when you're told 'it's not over yet', it takes a little while to adjust, to put your jelly jaw back on, and roll with the punches. Very odd feeling. In the wake of disappointment as well as that strange sensation of emotional incongruence, you might be tempted to keep post-pleasantries to a minimum.
However, regardless of whether you pass or not, I'd say: shake their hand. Show your examiners courtesy and respect, as well as appreciation. Of course this doesn't mean you can't be frustrated. It doesn't mean you have to like them. But appreciation is bigger than all that - it's about giving them honour for their hard work in reading your manuscript. To ape my phrase from earlier: You've been given a different commission. You serve a different master. Showing courtesy and respect is how you can demonstrate that. [See 1 Pet 3:15ff.]
 This is an apprenticeship.
I have another way of describing the same reality: at undergrad level you learn the 'alphabet' of your subject; at MA level you learn the 'grammar'; and at PhD level you finally begin to speak. And once you're finished it's time to become fluent, just as a finishing apprentice would now have to work according to his own merits.
Both these images are designed to encourage a bit of humility as you approach your PhD (no - you are not God's gift to the academy!), as well as a bit of peace (chill out - you're not meant to have it all sorted).
 This is a vocation.
This truth will give you sustenance when, to be frank, you feel a bit rubbish and you just want to pack it all in. And it will furnish you with peace when you realise that, like with any other vocation, you were called to this. And when Christ calls a man, He bids him: "Come and die".
 This is protected.
Here's one of the most important lessons I've learned from my PhD - the providence, leading and faithfulness of God is cleverer, deeper and wiser than me. There's a tenderness in clasping God's hand, though one might rage with vain ambition, especially if one is able to say: "Content, whatever lot I see, for it is they hand that leadeth me".
My viva result sucked. It really did. It hurt. And it had many knock-on effects. But it was no less designed. I was no less cared for walking home immediately after shaking hands with my examiners, feeling like an academic failure. And I am no less protected now, though suffering from depression and struggling to submit revisions. Indeed, I find myself led by the hand.
 You may be a master of much, but you must be mastered.
I thank you, Father, that you have not revealed these things to the wise and to the intelligent, but to little children.
- Jesus of Nazareth [Matt 11:25]
Few of us would be willing to stand against the enduring legacy of Jesus. Few would be willing (and indeed qualified) to say: "I know better than Jesus himself". And yet, when I read the Gospels as a so-called 'intellectual', as a fledgling academic and as a student - I'm confronted by a Jesus who should probably make us a little uncomfortable. This is a man unimpressed by qualifications and social standing, by teaching acumen or reputation. This is a man who explicitly praises the God of all the universe because the 'intelligent' people have been passed over in favour of the insignificant and vulnerable. And sure, it might be easy for us to conform that to our contemporary expectations: Jesus as a proto-progressive liberal. But it's nothing like that. Nor, by the way, is he shown as a proto-conservative. That's exactly the point - he presents himself as a thorn in the side to everyone! Without exception.
But we should let this sink in. Jesus was not the type of guy who drank espressos in an independent coffee shop, accompanied by his Macbook Pro and a copy of The Pensées recently bought from a second-hand bookshop. He wasn't an academic or a 'cool' cultural intellectual.
Instead, he chose a painful, self-eviscerating, sometimes unnuanced, humiliating, shameful path.
Surely, however we choose to involve ourselves in' academia, with however many years of scholarly activity still remaining, something must look different if we took Jesus' words above seriously?
Wow - that's it guys. All 30. Sorry it took so long. What did you think? Are there any lessons you've learned that you'd want to add? Any comments or feedback? Be sure to let me know.
Thanks for reading! :)