Congratulations, you’ve managed to put off a huge essay worth 25% of your grade off until the last minute. Ah, college. Time to start buying those five-hour energy drinks in bulk, because you’ve got some serious work to do. Lucky for you, UWeekly is chock-full of writers who just so happen to pump out A-grade essays at the last minute. Whether it’s that silly English 101 essay about self-evaluation or a research paper on the water on Mars, these tips will help you get through a writer’s block quickly and efficiently.
Hit the library
This is everyone’s favorite place to be, I know. But right now there are tons of people utilizing it to the fullest. It sets off the right atmosphere and gives you a good amount of peace and quiet. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be distracted by your typical website (i.e. Facebook), but if you’ve paid any attention, you’ll know how to block those time-sucking websites.
Not only does the library have a great atmosphere for working, but it will give you the resources you need for your research paper. Don’t brush off books as resources just because they’re not as easily accessible as articles on JSTOR. Use the table of contents to narrow down what it is you’re looking for. It’s nice to keep in mind that, if you’re using MLA format, citing the book will be a breeze.
Take a break
All right, this might sound a little disastrous at first, but if you give yourself time away from your essay then it’ll really benefit your writing. I know you think you’re some sort of genius that can write a perfect essay in one sitting, but every professor is a stickler for grammar. Nobody wants to see incorrect spelling; it distracts from the essay and from your thesis. The grammar nazis cannot properly read beyond that page once they see an improper use of “there,” “their,” or “they’re.”
After reading multiple essays on the same topic, the last thing your sleep-deprived TA needs to see is a careless error on your part. It makes them that more inclined to mark your paper down. Spell check works, but it’s always a good idea to read over your work. Giving yourself a needed break from all of that hard work will give you a fresh set of eyes for your paper and will make it easier to spot mistakes.
Conquer writer’s block
The writer’s block is the dreaded dilemma of every procrastinator. After doing a thorough amount of research, you may find that you’ve burned yourself out. Seeing that blinking cursor at 3 AM is more horrifying than watching a Twilight marathon. If you find it hard to start your paper, go back to your thesis and think of supporting ideas. From there, you can brainstorm and provide evidence supporting your thesis.
Go back to your resources and read over some of the notes you took (which you should have done). Something may spark an idea, which could lead to a paragraph. Once you get back into the flow, DO NOT STOP. Keep writing and you’ll come up with even more ideas to back up your thesis. Sometimes that last-minute adrenaline rush gives you the boost you need.
Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit
I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. You’ve managed to gather some great evidence for your thesis, but now you have to elaborate on it. You can insert slight opinions into these supporting facts. Paraphrase the shit out of that quote and dumb it down for the reader. Just be careful not to dumb it down too much, because otherwise your professor will pick up on the fact that your paper is 90% filler and you think he’s an idiot.
If you have to do a self-evaluation essay on how you’ve improved over the year, think of it as an opinion paper. Even if you haven’t improved, you can just talk about how you feel your tone has improved as well as your understanding of rhetoric. These are the easiest because you’re just talking about yourself.
Read your essay aloud
It may sound a little silly, but most writing tutors recommend that you read your essay aloud. This helps if you have a lot of grammar trouble. Reading it aloud will give you the opportunity to see what sentences don’t make sense. It helps point out the run-on sentences, fragments and awkward transitions. Reading your essay out loud can also jog some more ideas into your head. You can see if the essay flows smoothly and figure out what follow up would sound best.
If you use these tips in your crunch time, then it’ll be one less thing for you to worry about. Don’t forget to use any of your own techniques too (this doesn’t mean going on Pinterest). Pumping out an essay isn’t an easy task for all of us, especially when it’s about something dull like Geology. Waiting until the last minute can make your essay sound rushed, but using these tips should make it sound like you’ve been working on it for weeks.