Tonight I finished what I consider to be a complete outline for my first dissertation chapter.
It may seem premature to be outlining already, but the advisor for my pre-proposal directed study, who also happens to be my second reader, heretofore referred to as Sid, suggested that to get a jumpstart on the dissertation I should start conceptualising and shaping my chapters before I start my proposal. In doing so, I've started doing the heavy lifting in advance, which will ensure I have valuable brain cycles available for analysis and synthesis when the writing begins.
I find comfort in solidifying the form of my dissertation and its constituent parts so early. Even if it changes--It most definitely will a few times, I'm sure--at least I have something reasonably concrete to guide my work.
This outline is as satisfying as it is detailed and ripe for elaboration.