Projects in the Pipeline…

I have been exploring some ideas about projects that I have lined up for the future and how I want to execute them and so far have a few that see me returning to photography another that will possibly be produced in a drawing format and one that may include elements of collage and embellishment.

The first project I am keen to start on revolves around memories, a subject that my final piece for my Foundation Art degree focussed on, and will see thoughts and ideas developed from that project getting pushed further forward. (the posts for this original work can be found here and here ) However, after doing a bit of thinking about the final outcome I would like, what format would suit the subject, what I am trying to portray and the direction I would like to take this project in, I have decided that I’d like to create images via photographic means.  I would ideally like to shoot with 35mm film in black and white but have lost the facility to develop and print my own images, and sending off film to be developed can be pretty slow, I think I may use a digital camera to take my images and then use editing software to get the right feel for the image.

The other photography project I am thinking about is to do with self portraits and self-representation, again drawing on previous projects…this one drawing from research that I undertook toward the beginning of my Insta Rips and Anti Social Media degree project.  I want to investigate further, what constitutes a self-portrait, if they are a fair representation of ourselves and if there are other means of self-representation that are more true to our person.  I have already decided that I would like to use photography as my means of image capture as it is the means we now seem to favour when creating a self-portrait over painting and drawing.  I am considering using my phone for this project in order to share freely my images on social media in order to gain feedback and ask questions of the viewer and their perception of the image.

A spin-off from the self-portrait/representation that I have been thinking about is to do with personal information, the data that follows us around and is part of us and our digital make up, whether it be a PIN for a bank card, e-mail address, phone number, passwords, all the information which can be traced back to us.  I am thinking about creating a mixed-media piece for this, but at the moment I’m still working through the very basic ideas of the project.

The other main photography project I am keen to start is using the images I already have printed and adding detail to them using embellishments, whether that be glitter, lace, buttons or pieces of newspaper to add texture, interest and depth to the image.  I have already selected several images that I am wanting to use to experiment with this idea and should be sharing these shortly!  :)

If you want to see behind the scenes images of what I am up to and other things I have been doing, head over to my Instagram !


An Open Letter to the University Of South Wales

I was lucky enough to obtain a place on the Foundation Art, Media and Design course run at Caerleon Campus back in 2010 after being made redundant from my full-time job.  Getting onto this course changed my life and gave me hope that the career I wanted could be achieved.  What I hadn’t bargained for over the year that the course ran, was to make so many good friends, learn new skills that I never even thought about and have the help and support of the fantastic lecturers who really listened to me and made me feel that I mattered as an individual and part of a team.

The course offered me the chance to try out so many new techniques, from creating a stop motion video, 3d art, sculpture and using song lyrics to inspire fashion.  The course taught me that inspiration can be sought from so many different, unlikely sources, experimentation in your thought processes can take your project from one dimension to another.  It has affected how I approach life in general, from how I work on a day-to-day basis, to how I plan my own projects.  I am a lot more creative than I used to be, and that is not because I wasn’t a creative person before the course, it’s because it gave me the confidence to take my ideas from my head and to actually create from the ideas.  The course has taught me that mistakes are often the beginning of new creations and should be embraced, I’m not so scared of making mistakes now, and often learn from them and create from them.

The reason I chose to study Foundation Art in Caerleon Campus was because I like the setting, the university has a lot of history, pretty architectural detailing, the facilities that were offered (hello Darkroom and film processing and printing!),and the studios were bright and sunny, well-lit and the perfect place to experiment with art.  The lecturers were not worried about us making a mess, and actively encouraged us to make the space our own, pinning things to the walls, hanging things from the tables and ceilings, anything that could help our creative flow.

The other reason that I chose Caerleon as my place of study was down to its location from my home.  I live in Pontypool and at the time I couldn’t drive, I was having driving lessons, and had to catch the bus everywhere.  To get to Caerleon on the bus took about an hour, getting 2 busses and cost me around £30 a week to get back and for.  The only other place I could have studied the course would have been Treforrest, and according to Google maps, would take me nearly 2 hours in travel, on public transport to get to.  That kind of travel time would have impacted on my study time and would have had an effect on my attendance too, as missing one transport link would have made me miss lectures.  it would have also caused me to be hugely stressed out, limit me to what I could physically create and cause problems with transporting any materials that I might have needed.

Shutting the course will impact on people like myself, who want to learn and be able to stay in our own homes.  I wouldn’t consider going for a job that meant I needed to be uprooted from my home unless I wanted to, so why should going to university be any different.  It will put off a lot of people who don’t have easy access to transport, might have families and jobs that need their time.  I was lucky that I had a job to support myself through the course and had the time to travel between my home, uni and work easily.  if the course was based anywhere else then I would have had to consider moving, giving up work or not even attending the course.

The Foundation course feeds into other courses held in the University, I got accepted onto the Photographic Art degree this way.  If I had not have had the opportunity to be part of the Foundation course then I would not have filled a place on my degree, there would be one less person on that course and one less student’s funding coming through the doors.  I can’t remember the numbers of students on my degree course exactly, but I believe there were around 45 of us, out of that number, around 12 of us had come from the Foundation Art course, that is a huge percentage of students that the degree course would lose and have to find from other sources.

There are far-reaching consequences too, where shutting the course is concerned.  The local area, which is not particularly affluent, nor is it at the bottom of poverty, would suffer.  Students will not be coming to the area, going out in the area, shopping in the area or renting homes in the area.  The pubs, local shops, community will suffer.  Even the university itself will suffer from not having a wide-ranging mix of students coming through the doors and interacting , helping and inspiring  each other.

Going back to personal experiences, I would not be where I am today if I had not studied Foundation Art, Media and Design through Caerleon Campus.  I have been able to complete a degree and am now looking at furthering my career in art, combining it with helping people and applying my knowledge to day to day tasks.

Art is such an important subjects, it’s not just about creating “pretty pictures”, there is a depth to any art, whether its conscious, subconscious, easy to understand or has complex meaning behind it.  There is an emotion attached to all art, from the emotion of the creator to how looking at a work of art can make a person feel.  I do not believe, for one second, that shutting this course will have any benefits to anyone, whether it is a lecturer, a student, the local area, the finance side of things, or other courses.


Please, if you value art and creativity as much as I do, click the link below, and sign the petition…your signature counts.


Read more about the course from the news links below…

Pastures New

My time in my current position as an office worker is coming to an end at the end of the month and while I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, receiving excellent support and gaining new skills, and am feeling sad that I am not staying for longer, I am also looking forward to the future.

I am lucky enough to have gained a lot of office work and customer service experience that I am sure I will be able to gain a new position soon enough and have applied for lots of positions that utilise the skills I have gained over the course of my working life and would be happy to become part of another office and team.

I am also really lucky to have gained qualifications in my field of hobbies and interests which I blog about here and am now able to look to other roles that would utilise these and have been looking into a career as an Occupational Therapist.  I know that this role would be brilliant for me as I enjoy working with people, helping them and assisting them in day-to-day life.  Being creative means that I can often think outside the box and think of ways to adapt existing objects to assist with daily life and find new ways of doing the same things.  The great thing about this kind of role is that you can sit with someone, old or young, male or female, whatever their level of skill and teach them new skills or help them to re-engage with hobbies and interests that they may have had prior to an illness or a change of life event.  I have seen, from experience, how powerful the emotional and physical healing can be when integrating a persons hobby or interest into a care plan can be, from seeing a person with limited movement start knitting and seeing the progression she has made in creating a simple scarf to being able to hold scissors and cut out intricate designs to use on cards, happiness can be a great healer.  It is something I feel that I would love to do as a career and would be really rewarding both for the client and for me.

The other avenue I have been exploring, though not to the extent of the therapies side of arts and crafts, is teaching.  When I started out on my Foundation degree in Art, media and Design, this was an avenue I really wanted to go down but over time the need to pay bills and work became more of a necessity.  Now I am considering applying for my PGCE in art so I can teach the subject at secondary school level (11year olds to 16year olds).  I have been drafting up an application form to send in to UCAS for the past few weeks, hopefully, to gain a place on a course near my home, hopefully for the academic year 15/16 but probably will be the year after in all honesty.

Other roles that I have been considering are roles involving specialist photography, something that I can use the knowledge and skills I have built up in university.  I know that I would be good in an advertising position and also in an art photography position and have applied for several jobs in these areas.  For me though, these jobs probably require a degree in Fashion and Advertising Photography.  The degree I hold is Photographic Art, which has a much larger base of skills that are not specific enough for that role, but if you don’t try, you never know, right?

I’m glad that I have been able to work for the last year and a half, full-time, whilst completing my degree, grateful to my employer for allowing me the time off that was needed for university lectures and other university work and also for my colleagues who have been really understanding of my time away from the office.  I have been lucky enough to be able to work on a flexible hours scheme which has meant that I have been able to work full-time whilst studying, therefore getting the best of both worlds.

And while I really am going to be sad to have to say goodbye to my team members and other work colleagues I have met along the way, I am also glad I am able to explore other working avenues that interest me.  I have gained so much in skills and experience and I can continue to build on these both in my personal and professional development whatever I decide to do in the future.

Anti Journal, Personal Art Journal and…. The Mindfulness Colouring Book

I managed to get a few pages done in my Anti Journal last week, and also make a start on my Personal Art Journal which I had been wanting to start for a while, due to absence from work as I came down with a sickness bug that left me feeling really poorly and lacking in energy.  All I seemed to have the energy to do was crawl out of bed and down onto the sofa and cwtch up with my pencil-case and creative books (and the puppies of course!).  So in the 3 days I was off ill I managed the following pages….


Anti-Journal – Find Wonder In Nature


My inspiration for this page came from the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.  I have always been astounded at how one creature can turn into another over time, its kind of like a natural Pokémon!  As a child I used to collect caterpillars, watch them turn into chrysalis’ before hatching out into butterflies and letting them go free and it always felt a bit magical to watch these beautiful creatures emerge from these leathery looking hard cases.  So that was my inspiration “Find Wonder in Nature” – the life-cycle of a caterpillar.

I used Triplus Fineliner pens to create the drawing and add colour to the shapes and watercolour for the background sky as I wanted it to be just a wash of colour.  I chose to “scribble” in the colour on my drawings as I felt that the block colour of the felt pens I like using would be too heavy for this image, I wanted to keep the images light and playful and create a sense of movement whilst still being able to add some detail and have control over the texture of the image.


Anti-Journal – Make Each One Different


I started on this page ages ago and finally got around to finishing it last week.  I didn’t have any real idea of what direction to go in for this page I just knew that I wanted to create something that could look like the patterns from inside marbles or replicate small bouncy balls so I kept that in mind.  This page seemed to be the most difficult so far as I ran out of ideas for each circle before I was even half way through and had to keep leaving it and coming back to it in order to finish it.

I used felt pens to create this page.


Anti-Journal – Radiate




Radiate to me conjures up images of the sun, heat and circles and that is what I tried to convey in this image.  The sun gives off both heat and light and light is made up of a spectrum of colour which I wanted to show.  I used circles to create a spiralling pattern around the centre circle as the typical spiral radiates outward in motion.  I decided to use a black for the background, graduating it in-depth of tone from the lightest tone toward the pattern and getting darker toward the edges to convey a sense of light.

I used felt pens to colour the 2 centre layers of the pattern and a mix of felt pen and watercolour to create the 3rd layer of tonal graduation.  A gel roller ball pen was used to outline each section of the pattern.


Anti Journal – Plan The Route From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be


In my life my general plan is to get from A to B, regardless of whether it is actual travel, planning my future or making plans for something.  I decided to incorporate this into my fictional map.  I added roundabouts and junctions, trees and greenery and a few streams as to me my route anywhere should be calm but interesting and grass, trees and water are calming sites to me (probably from living in Wales for much of my life!  There’s nothing better than being able to view nature from wherever you are!)

I used Staedtler Triplus Fineliners for this image.


Anti-Journal – Repeat One Action Over And Over


I started this page by drawing really uniform, different coloured swirls over the page, (if you look hard, you can see them!) but didn’t really like it so after leaving the page and thinking about it for a while I decided to go back over the page and repeat the swirl but in different sizes over the top of what I had already done, getting the swirl to overlap with other swirls.  I like this page loads though I’m not sure I have finished with it yet and may go back to add more to it at some point.

I used Staedtler Triplus Fineliners for this page.


Anti-Journal – Its Raining Colour


I had a few ideas about how I wanted to create this page but decided to go with colour drips   I decided on this as I wanted the page to look like it had been rained on.  And thought the page looks simple it took an age to complete! I had to wait  for each set of colour drips to dry before I added the next lot of colour as I didn’t want the colours to run into each other!  I used my Aquash brush and watercolour paints to create this page.  The Aquash brush was the best choice as it has a tank to hold the water and a brush end, a bit like a pen.  I was able to pick up paint colour onto the brush and hold it over the page while squeezing the body of the brush slightly to control water flow to the brush and creating drops.  I am pretty happy with this page so far but think that adding more depth to the drops may be a good move, and also adding a further sense of “rain” by exaggerating the splashes that were created.

For this page I used Aquash watercolour paints and brush.


Anti-Journal – A Photo of a Photo of a Photo of a Photo


This one is kind of self-explanatory and I’m not sure if I like it too much as it seemed to me to be the easy route to getting a page done.  That, and my Instax Mini 8, which I took the images on, didn’t seem to focus very well so the images are all blurry.  However, it is done and was more of an experiment to see how my camera would react to indoor photography.  I might change the page at some point.


Personal Art Journal

I decided to start a personal art journal as I have been missing my experimental sketch books that I used to have when doing my Foundation course.  I always enjoyed being creative and experimenting with ideas on those pages and felt that this was something to re-start again.  That and getting the encouragement from my Wreck This Journal and Anti-Journal to continue with letting the creativity flow and continue.  I’m not sure I am going to title the pages yet as sometimes I have no specific idea of what I want to create, yet I know I want to create a certain mark on the page before me.  …so here it is, my Personal Art Journal.

Personal Art Journal – Page 1


This was the first page I created, it was a damp and miserable day, and it was stupidly cold (possibly in part due to me running a temperature and being ill).  I was missing summer and the bright, colourfulness of the season so I set about with my watercolours, creating a graduated sunrise/sunset sky.  After waiting for the page to dry I wanted to add a pattern to the page so I let my pen decide where to go, I wasn’t really focusing on what I was doing, and came up with a pattern of layered petal shapes.  I added the dots and the wavy lines at the end as I felt that the page could do with something to lift it more.  It’s strange to say it, but the image reminds me of a pineapple, the one fruit that I associate most with summer, and I had subconsciously included that into my image!


Personal Journal – Page 2


This page was created not long after the first, and though I was still ill, I was starting to feel better in myself.  I had a dream about shapes, swirling and moving about, changing and flowing and woke up so calm and refreshed that I wanted to try to capture what had been in my dream.  I chose to use bright colours to capture the energy that I had felt upon waking and the circles, triangles and wavy line to capture movement, and to represent water flowing as that was how it had appeared in my dream.  perhaps this flowing movement had aided my calmness when I woke?  The image took an age to create as every time I stepped away from it to look at it, it felt like there was something missing, even once I had finished, however now, looking at it, I am entirely happy with how it turned out and still makes me feel calm and refreshed.  I feel like I have captured what I set out to and that it is a good representation of my dream.


The Mindfulness Colouring Book by Emma Farrarons

I know I said a few posts back that I wasn’t going to buy another “creative” book until I had finished my Wreck This Journal and Anti-Journal, but I kept stumbling over this book on Instagram, Facebook, on Amazon as a suggested purchase and on blog reviews.  I never set out to buy this but when out shopping I spotted it out of the corner of my eye and had to check it out.  Let me say this, it was love at first sight!  The designs are intricate and lend themselves to so many different methods of “colouring them in” and the paper quality is good enough that even brand new felt pens don’t bleed colour through them.  The only down side I had to the book, is that it is really hard to crack the spine to get the images to lay flat and get into the crevice to finish colouring the page properly, its like it’s too well made!  But aside from that little bug, I really do like this book!  (And incase you were wondering I purchased this from my local WHSmith’s store as I couldn’t wait for it to be delivered to me if I had bought it on the net!!!)

I’m not going to write explanations of these as they are pretty self-explanatory, I have just added colour to the image in ways that are pleasing to me :)



The Mindfulness Colouring Book – My First Page



The Mindfulness Colouring Book – Page 2



The Mindfulness Colouring Book – Page 3


The Self Portrait and The Selfie – My Synopsis

As promised, here is the synopses that ran as a prelude to my complete dissertation.  This piece of writing needs to be kept brief and to the point and will act as a guide to you and your lecturer about the content of your dissertation.

This paper sets out to look at the similarities between self portraits and the modern day selfie.  In the paper there is a look back at painted portraits and the reasons behind them and why they were so popular, the rise of photography and the invention of such photographic types as the daguerreotype and how the Kodak Eastman Box Brownie meant that photography became more and more accessible to the general public.  From this point the paper takes us on a journey to more modern means of self portraiture, from the photo-booth image,looking at the similarities between this type of photo and the self portraits today with the work of Tracey Ferguson and Ori Gersht in their Day By Day project.  The work then moves into todays self portraits, known as selfies, and how technology and the digital and social media world of today has shaped how we take and distribute these selfie images.  We then take a look at what might happen in the future to further shape the world of the selfie, from advancements in the cameras used to take these images to bringing back the selfie from the realms of the internet back into objects in everyday life.  The paper touches upon celebrity culture and the pressures of modern life to keep creating the images.


Long live the #Selfie!

Anti Journal Pages and the reason for my absence.

I have been MIA for the last few weeks and have not had a chance to blog about my completed pages for the last few weeks, except for uploading to Instagram (and the last of those pages was completed and uploaded 2 weeks ago…).  The reason for this absence….


This pair of cuties…. brother and sister, mine is the smaller of the two and we are looking after her brother for my step daughter while she is on holidays.  :)  And its not that I haven’t started any pages…more that I haven’t finished any yet…however, I do have some pages to share that were completed before the arrival of our puppy…. here they are!!!


Anti Journal Page 5 – 8

Page 5 Anti-Journal


“Try to Draw Perfect Circles By Hand” – this took me hours!  I was going to create a picture from the circles, grouping different coloured ones together to make shapes but decided in the end to doodle tiny circles in random fashion over the page instead.  I love the colour clash-brightness of the page and how I have managed to fill the whole page pretty evenly with circles!  I have no idea how many I drew, nor do I have the desire to count them!  Lol!!!  I used Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens to draw the circles.


Page 6 Anti-Journal



“Continue This”.  I wish I had taken a photo of this before I started just so you could see the mark on the page which I continued, if you look closely at the full page image you can just about make out the original mark (its pretty much centre of the page!!!).  Before I started this page I was a bit put off by the idea of continuing something that had already been started but once I had my pen in hand something inside me clicked and I found this pattern to flow really easily from my head to hand to paper.  I used a generic gel roller ball pen to create the black doodle and my Staedtler Triplus Fineliners to add the dots of colour.  I had thought about leaving the design in black and white but I kept coming back to the page and felt that adding colour would make the design pop a bit more.  :)


Page 7 Anti-Journal


“Today is a Blank Page, Fill It Vibrantly”.  I decided to use the equilateral triangle shape for this page as I really like the shape and had a plan to use triangles on this page as soon as I saw the prompt! I made the shape from some cardboard creating a template that I placed on the page and drew round, overlapping the shape as I went to create a layered look.  I used a generic gel rollerball pen to draw the shapes and used a felt pen, in hot pink, to colour any spaces not covered by any of the triangle shapes – the background.  I then used several makes of highlighter (the vibrant part!) to colour in the triangles, changing the colour where an overlap of shapes took place.


Page 8 Anti-Journal



“Bleed Colour – place Under a Dripping Tap”.  This photo was taken while the page was still wet and I can honestly say that dry, it looks even better (I will add a photo of it soon!)  I struggled with this page initially and was worried that I would ruin the book by introducing water to the pages but I got around that by placing a few sheets of A4 paper behind the page before dripping water onto it so that the water only saturated that page.  I chose to colour stripes of differing width with felt pens as I know that felt pens can bleed a lot better than other mediums, its to do with the pigments and chemical make-up of the ink.  After I had coloured all the stripes I spent some time getting the tap in my kitchen to drip speed that I was happy with, not too fast and not too slow.  I moved the page around under the drips so as to get at least one drop of water over each line to merge and bleed the colours together.  As the drips hit the page the inks were pushed outwards and merged together and as they dried the colours kind of got sucked back toward the centre of where the drip had hit.  I loved the effect that this had on the lines and now it reminds me a bit of tie-dye.  Id love to use this effect with some lighter colours or try blotting the paper as soon as the drips have hit.  Definitely something to try in the future!

How I Researched and Wrote My (8989 word*) Dissertation

*actual, real words that I wrote that were original and mine, that is to say, that figure does not include any quotes I have used or any picture labels, or any words that were said by someone else…

I was prompted to write this post as I have had an influx of people asking me about how to conduct research and write a dissertation, probably because it is that time of year again for many students who are studying degree’s.  Firstly, do not panic, DO NOT PANIC, and don’t drink too much coffee or energy drink, while it may give you a pleasant buzz, it is distracting as you can’t concentrate on one thing for longer that a minute. I learned that the hard way and spent the first 2 weeks (if not more) in a caffeine haze darting from one thing to the other, not able to sit still, staring at a blank screen and starting to wonder if dropping out from my degree would be the best option…

Anyway, enough of that, that’s not what you are here to read about.  Onto the actual research and writing…

First things first, decide on a topic, it doesn’t matter what it is so long as it is relevant to you, your course and is interesting enough to spend many hours contemplating, reading about, talking about and hold your attention for long enough for you to be able to write those gazillion words about.  You will be a living, breathing object, feeding off the subject you choose for the next few months and you need to not get sick of the subject before you have even finished your introduction chapter.

Next thing on the list, and this is before you start doing anything else, go out to your local stationers and buy one of those A4 Project Books, preferably one with removable plastic tab dividers, I bought one by Pucca Pads, it has little pockets on the divider which are good for stashing extra notes that may have been scribbled at odd times and need to be inserted into your notes at a further point in time.  Also, while you are at it, buy some smaller notebooks (A5 or smaller, whatever takes your fancy) and keep one beside you at all times, you never know when inspiration will hit, my top spots for genius thoughts were the shower, in bed (waking up at odd times to crazy ideas) and in traffic, you never know when these ideas will hit so it is best to be prepared.

Now to begin…I will break this down into sections to make it easier to see my own steps.

Information Gathering (AKA Stage 1)

I approached my dissertation subject (The Selfie) by reading as much as I could about the phenomena, photocopying and printing any articles I could find on the subject and then reading them through, highlighting any interesting facts, figures, quotes and dates.  Then I read some more, I scoured the internet for blog posts on the subject and printed those out, marking the documents for future reference.  It sounds really cheesy, and it is, but one of my lecturers said to “become a dry sponge, soaking up the moisture that is the information about your subject”.  I’m sure I can not emphasise enough the importance of reading, reading, reading.  I even bought textbooks because there were paragraphs relevant to my subject matter that I needed and read the whole book to see if there were further arguments to help back up my findings.  At this stage in my research I didn’t make many notes* as this was the “Pre Forming” stage of my dissertation, the stage where you are creating ideas and thinking about the subject and what you would like to cover.   *the notes I did make were one liners, scribbled in margins and onto post it notes attached to print outs, over the relevant paragraph, as a reminder to re-read or highlight a point of interest to research further.

The Structure Stage (AKA Stage 2)

The structure stage is really about how you structure your dissertation.  It may differ from university to university but ours was structured with a synopsis which came before everything else and acted as an outline for the path our research and writing would take (I shall upload mine here soon for you to read!), it is a bit like the overview, the bit on the back of a book that gives you just enough information to get the idea of the body of text.  It is separate to the actual dissertation though it is connected to it.  My dissertation, the full and final thing was set out into the basic categories of Contents, Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Conclusion, References and Bibliography, but there are further sections that might need to be added.  Our minimum, “original words” (not including quotes) was 8000 so I split this down for each section, the intro needs to be brief so I put aside 1000 words for that, and also 1000 for the conclusion, that gave 6000 words to be split over 3 chapters, so 2000 words each sounded a lot more manageable to me to be able to write.

Writing Your Synopsis (AKA Stage 3)

Now you have read some research material and have a vague idea of the subject matter you want to cover and also the kind of structure your dissertation will take, it is time to write your synopsis.  This piece of writing needs to be brief and to the point, covering the kinds of topic your dissertation will cover, from the introduction to the final chapter, all main topics of discussion should be outlined.  This synopsis should give a snapshot of information, act as a guide for you when writing your dissertation and also help others to understand what subject matter you will be covering.

The Note Organising Stage (AKA Stage 4)

This is the point where your project book will come in super handy and you will be thankful for buying such a useful piece of stationery!  Firstly I suggest labelling the tabs with the main parts of your dissertation, Intro, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Conclusion, Bibliography and References.    Once I had done this, I outlined on the first piece of paper behind each tab the kind of topics that I wanted to write about in these chapters.  For example my sections were divided out and covered the following

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 – The History of the Selfie – this focussed on the history of the self-portrait and photography.
  • Chapter 2 – Self Portraits and the Modern Day – in this chapter I looked at the selfie and who it came to be what it is today.
  • Chapter 3 – The Future of the Selfie – and this chapter looked at types of selfie, new technologies and where it could all go from here.
  • Conclusion

Once you have an idea of the topics that you will cover in your chapters you can then go back to your research material and add information into the relevant sections of your project book.  You can then add in any notes that you may want to include in the finished piece.  Use the Bibliography and reference section to record where all your information has come from as a useful reference tool and also record the source in notes that you make and on to any photocopies and print outs.  I found it really frustrating to have a really good quote that could be used to back up any theories and thoughts but not have a source where it came from.  Keeping a record of all information sources will help you when finishing your dissertation and having to reference each quote that you have used, and it will also help with building your bibliography and references as much of the information used will then only have to be typed out and correctly referenced as per your university guidelines.

The Typing Stage (AKA Stage 5)

Once I had all my work mapped out, and ideas on what I wanted to write in which section I was then able to start writing the Introduction and the chapters.  I wrote mine using Microsoft Word and had each section of my dissertation saved separately as different documents in the same folder on my pc.  This meant I could work on whichever section I wanted to without having to work from start to finish, introduction to conclusion, my mind flits about and processes information in such a way that I could be writing about the history of photography but come up with a really good paragraph on the definition of the modern-day selfie that could be fitted in somewhere in my second chapter.  This approach also made me more productive, when I had a mind blank on one section, rather than sitting in front of the screen and getting worked up about the disappearing hours I could go off and work on another part of my dissertation.  It made it easier to maintain the References and Bibliography sections of my dissertation too as I kept those documents open on my computer when writing and just transferred the data sources over into these sections as I used them in the main body of my writing.   The other thing that I found really good about this approach to different word docs for each section is that I didn’t worry so much about loosing work as each section was saved separately and just for piece of mind I also, each night copied the file onto a disc so I always had a back up copy if ever anything were to happen.

Proof Reading, Spelling and Grammar Check (AKA Stage 6)

If you have gotten to this stage then congratulations!!!  You are nearly finished!!!  Once you are at this stage you can now copy all the sections of your dissertation into one document before you move on to proof reading the final thing, though I must say, proof reading should occur whenever you return to a chapter or section to add more to it just so you know where you are and that your words flow well from one paragraph to the next.  It will also help you keep your style of writing in check too.  But the final proof read is probably the most important and should probably be done by someone other than yourself as you may miss something, whether it is a sentence that doesn’t make sense to a word missing from a paragraph, as you will be so used to looking at it that you won’t notice it yourself.  It’s also really important to get the proof reader to mark any spelling and grammar mistakes that may not have been picked up by the checkers that come with the word processing programme.  Words can be spelled correctly but may not necessarily be the correct ones to use in the context you want.  Once this is all done and completed and you are happy with everything, check all the quotes you have used are correctly referenced and images are labelled.  Check, check and then check again!  once you are 100% happy with the finished piece, you are good to send it to print!

Other Notes on Writing and Research

I have a few other comments that I would like to share about dissertation research and writing that don’t really fit in anywhere but may be useful..

I hated having to remember how to correctly reference my sources, my university required all quotes to be referenced in the “Harvard” style.  I used google to find a reference generator tool and copied and pasted the references from there.  You could probably find one too, depending on what style of referencing your university requires.  The Harvard one that I used can be found here in case you are interested!

I have never read my dissertation in full, I have read bits of it here and there, before adding information into the chapters and continuing with paragraphs after a short break.  My friend has, and she says it’s good so I’m just going to take her word for it.

There were times I was bored out of my skull, and times where I spent most of the day staring out of the window wishing I was somewhere else, and that was ok, its part and parcel of writing and the creative process.

It’s ok to not understand or remember what you have written, before writing this post I had all but forgotten my chapter headings, let alone how I began my introduction!  How I managed to write as many words as I did and create something so wordy but that flows and makes sense amazes me even now!

Just remember, this is how I worked writing my dissertation, you can follow it if you like, or not at all, I just hope this will be helpful and provide a guide to any of you struggling to make a start!  :)