January is always a bit of a hard month, you get the 'Christmas comedown', shorter daylight hours and the winter weather usually cranks up a notch too. This year January is even more of a pain for me - it's dissertation deadline month.
In your first year you hear the word dissertation and you're safe in the knowledge that it's a long way off, it isn't something you need to consider yet. Halfway through the second year you have to starting thinking about your synopsis and it gets real. Thankfully we have great tutors here and they are on hand to help you decide which topic to focus on. I was a little over-confident initially and thought I knew exactly what I wanted to write about, but when I discussed it with my tutors they highlighted the fact that it had nothing to do with my practice and was completely the wrong subject for me. In hindsight they were right, it is always easier to write about something which relates to your working practice.
Back to the drawing board I went with some much needed guidance, until I found a subject which not only held enough interest for me to want to research and write about, but also related to my practical work. My current working title (I think this is the fifth title so far, you soon learn the titles change regularly as the dissertation progresses) is "In the context of the triumph of fashion and 'short-termism', industrialism cannot be sustained. The crisis facing designer-makers today - where do we go now?". I'm sure it will change another couple of times before hand in.
One thing that everybody tells you is that it is never too early to make a start, and yes that is very good advice but actually doing that isn't quite so easy. All students learn the art of procrastination fairly early on in the degree. Suddenly you find things you HAVE to watch on Netflix. One girl on my course said she found herself watching a documentary about London Bridge. She has no interest in the London Bridge. You start watching a box set and before you know it two days have passed and you haven't moved, you were so intent on watching that box set. Which you weren't even interested in in the first place.
You promise yourself you will have a cup of coffee then make a start. 40 minutes later you realise you have been staring at a mark on the wall for 40 minutes. These are all states of procrastination that students can relate to. But you need to get strict with yourself, write a realistic timetable and do your best to stick to it. Break down each chapter in to points you want to research and discuss. Do not look at the dissertation as a whole, but tackle a small part at a time, little by little. If you write some bullet points for each chapter, this makes it easier for you to focus on a paragraph at a time, knowing that you are heading in the right direction. Give yourself a reward each time you complete a chunk of your to do list. Once you make a start you'll find it's not as bad as you thought, and in fact doing it is much easier than stressing about doing it, as long as you have done enough research the words start to pour out. My deadline is in ten days time, so best I stop procrastinating, and staring at this page, and start writing.