Assistant professor Matt Might is probably best known for his Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D.. I've just been reading his excellent article on the Three Qualities of Successful Ph.D. Students, and I'm finding it my favourite amongst his many articles on this subject. It's filled with fantastic nuggets, such as:
"A smart person would know better than to get a Ph.D."
"To survive this period, you have to be willing to fail from the moment you wake to the moment your head hits the pillow. You must be willing to fail for days on end, for months on end and maybe even for years on end. The skill you accrete during this trauma is the ability to imagine plausible solutions, and to estimate the likelihood that an approach will work."
"As you exit graduate school, an arc connecting your results should emerge, proving to faculties that your research has a profitable path forward."
"You will also need to actively, even aggressively, forge relationships with scholars in your field. Researchers in your field need to know who you are and what you're doing. They need to be interested in what you're doing too."
"Unfortunately, the only way to get better at writing is to do a lot of it. 10,000 hours is the magical number folks throw around to become an expert at something. You'll never even get close to 10,000 hours of writing by writing papers. [..] That's why I recommend that new students start a blog. Even if no one else reads it, start one. You don't even have to write about your research. Practicing the act of writing is all that matters."