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Starting to write your dissertation is officially the hardest part of uni

Don’t worry, your uni experience so far will NOT help you at all

Writing a dissertation is a key element of most uni courses, yet it remains the bane of everyone's life. Starting your diss is like trying to swim the channel. With your arms tied. And concrete on your feet. If you don't know what that feels like, just wait until you start 'writing' your diss.

Everything you thought you knew, you don't

You have to write a research proposal for your diss, shocking, I know. Actually knowing what you're going to write?? I've managed to bullshit my way through two years of uni already, what's one more year?! Finding the topic you want to study is a literal nightmare; it will keep you up at night. You all of a sudden forget absolutely everything you've ever been taught or been passionate about because of the intense fear inspired in you by your tutor.

Your head is thinking about the first draft deadline and how on earth you're supposed to read 20 (yes, twenty) secondary sources before you even start to plan your diss and if you've ever written 10000 words in your life (spoiler: you have) and if you dropped out now you could maybe still make it as a stripper? However, the takeaways have taken their toll; stripping is no longer an option, so you have to dig in deep and force yourself to write your diss.

What's the plan?

Now you've got your research question, and if you're really ahead of the game you've done some background reading. Now comes the time to sit down and plan your course of action. aaaaaaannnnnnddddd … Nothing. Your entire memory of your subject is reduced to one quote repeating itself in your head, and for the life of you, you can't remember where the hell it came from. Ideas eventually splat from your mind onto a page, but of course, none of them makes sense. However, you're a student, and your job is to join the dots when there's no line to be drawn between them. Blue curtains = sad author. Boom, first class degree with honours.

You plan your reading. You guessed it, and there's not a single thing on the face of the earth that is useful to your diss. Expand search. One text, very loosely related to your work. Expand the search again, and so on. Suddenly you're reading an article on why Tinkie-Winkie is actually communist propaganda when you should be looking for data on muscle fatigue after exercise.

Words… What are they again?

Somehow you've not pulled all your fingernails off out of frustration and you're actually on the right track to start writing the stupid thing. Sit down, deep breath. Then it dawns on you: you've forgotten how to string a sentence together. Your head is racing to make sense of 'big glass means lord gay and horse is man' that you've just written as your first sentence and you have no idea what you're doing. You give up, looking for a distraction, for example… writing an article for The Tab *ahem*.

You've run out of excuses to avoid the work, and you finally manage to write some coherent sentences on the right lines of what you're aiming for. Then, out of nowhere, Dale Winton's ghost appears beside you…


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If you don't get that reference, all hope is lost for you. Anyway, you've hit the wall. You tried to jump through the pentagonal hole in the wall but you messed it up and now you're in the pool. The pool of procrastination. You've run out of ideas, and you're only a third of the way done with your diss. You sit and cry a little about how you're going to have to sell your dirty socks to creeps to survive when you fail uni, but you manage to pull yourself together enough to make a strong cup of coffee and get back at it. This stage will repeat itself for at least two solid months.

The final straight

You made it! You've submitted your first full draft for tutor review, and a huge weight lifts off your shoulders. What's that? There's still a month until the final deadline? Oh, that's right, YOU'RE NOT DONE YET SUCKER. You'll get the feedback from your tutor pointing out every. Single. Typo. You made on those coffee-fuelled late night study sessions and basically telling you to rewrite your entire piece. You better pray to whatever benevolent study god is watching you that you can make it through unscathed because you're on your own now. Now go to the only library you ever want to be seen in again (The Library pub) and drink away the pain of the past year.