You’ve just been assigned the dreaded 10 page research paper. Or worse, a paper with a prompt that actually requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Every time you sit down to attempt to write the paper, the only thing that comes to mind are social media accounts and the food in your fridge. You turn on the TV but still can’t seem to evade the thought that every second that you procrastinate takes you that much closer to the rapidly approaching due date. If this sounds like you or not, read on.
Here are eleven tips to get over the notorious writer’s block plague and earn an A on your next paper.
1. Always start with an outline
Before you try to actually start writing, plan your ideas out with a detailed outline of your thesis, main points and supports for each of those points, topic sentences of every body paragraph, and the general idea of your conclusion. When you actually begin to write, constantly check your outline as a reference.
2. Work backwards
The introduction of any paper is always the hardest part. Start writing your body paragraphs first and then work backwards towards the introduction.
3. Just start writing
Most of the time, you have all the right thoughts in mind but they’re not in coherent sentences that can be translated to your paper yet. Get all your thoughts down on paper first and worry about making it sound pretty later.
4. Draft, draft, draft, and proofread
When you feel that you’re ready, read your paper aloud to someone you trust. Have him or her comment on sentence structure, content, and word choice. This will help catch awkward sentences and misused vocabulary that would be hard to notice otherwise.
5. Take breaks
Write your outline, eat lunch, write two body paragraphs, go to the gym, finish the body paragraphs, watch TV, then write your conclusion and final edits. Devote an entire day to writing your paper, trying to do every step in one sitting will limit your creativity.
6. Be sure to carefully abide by the guidelines
You want whoever’s grading your paper to notice how much time you spent perfecting it. Come up with a catchy and memorable title and be sure your margins, citations, and font are exactly how your professor likes them.
Tip: Download iSource MLA on the app store – It’ll format bibliography entries and in-text citations for you!
7. Use the thesaurus sparingly and with caution
8. Don’t limit yourself to the 5 paragraph essay
You’ll end up with unnecessarily long paragraphs. Devote one paragraph to each piece of evidence, or base each paragraph around one quote that sums up the idea. This will communicate your evidence clearly and efficiently.
9. Don’t wait until 2 am the night before it’s due to start
Although some people work well under stress, it’s hard to produce your best work when you’re exhausted in the middle of the night. Give yourself ample time to outline, edit, take breaks, and proofread.
10. The internet is your biggest enemy
Plagiarizing is arguably the biggest mistake in essay writing – it’s considered stealing and will always have dire consequences. Trust yourself, you have the capacity to come up with your own creative and intellectual ideas.
11. Suggest a brand new idea in your conclusion
In upper level classes, a conclusion should no longer just be a repetition of your introduction in different words. Base your conclusion on a new piece of insight that you haven’t already stated in your paper.
Trust yourself! No matter how scary an essay may seem, if you take tackle it slowly and in steps you’ll produce your best work without all the unnecessary stress. Happy writing!
By: Natalie Kessler