The Secrets to Starting Your Paper Instead of Procrastinating
June 11, 2012
•General, Online, Career-Services
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Trying to start a paper can be one of the most stressful—if not simply painful—experiences you have in your academic experience, especially if it happens often. If you’re having trouble sitting down in front of the computer and typing, then it’s probably time to trick yourself into writing.
Forget about the final product. The leading cause of paper-starting paralysis is fear of the huge task ahead. One writing secret that could make you feel better is that even professional writers hate getting started. That’s why you need to force yourself to sit down and get to work.
Do the prep work. To stay on task, make a list of all of the things you have to do before you start writing. Some of these tasks could include:
- Reading and highlighting the assignment sheet
- Constructing an outline
- Drafting your thesis
- Doing research and taking notes
Tip: spending too much time reading and rereading the assignment sheet is called productive procrastination; even doing something paper-related can hurt you if it wastes time that could be spend on actual drafting. Make sure you set a time limit for your writing preparations.
Just write. You shouldn’t write just anything, but you should start writing anything topic-related if you can’t get past the first sentence or two. Organization is usually the hardest part of building an effective argument, so start by choosing paragraph topics and typing any evidence that could support it. Remember that each paragraph should be a separate idea. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll have to change and rearrange your organization later, so don’t agonize over it too much early on.
Tip: Worry about your introduction after you write the entire paper. Or, even better, purposely write a really crappy introduction that simply hits on the general idea of your paper. Once you’ve finished a solid draft, you’ll be able write your intro and conclusion much faster since you’ll be much more familiar about your overall argument.
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