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So you completely forgot / procrastinated about your college paper and now you are under a time-crunch to finish it. What is the best way to get it done as soon as possible?
First Step: Start Writing
Getting started is the hardest step. Start with the first sentence and move on from there.
Creating an outline or complex structure is great when you have time, but right now you don’t! Just start writing immediately. Write the first sentence of each paragraph first, then move on from there. Do some free association writing about anything related to your topic and you can always remove what is not relevant later.
The most important thing is to make sure your paper at least hits the minimum page requirement. If you have more time at the end, you can make things better.
Step 2: Write More
Once you hit your minimum page requirement, keep writing. It is going to be much easier to cut down your paper if you are above your minimum page requirement. Keep writing a couple pages more than what you need. Don’t think, don’t read, just keep writing.
Step 3: Read
Once you are past your minimum page requirement, it is time to read your paper. Read it and decide if the general direction makes sense. Don’t worry about editing right now. Delete only what you need to.
If you need to delete enough content that you are below the minimum page requirement, go back to step 2. If you are still over your page requirement, move on.
Step 4: Edit (and Citations)
The most important thing to edit is going to be obvious spelling and grammar errors. Fix those first. Make sure you are using a program like Word or LibreOffice that has an internal spell- and grammar-checker.
If your paper is for a humanities, writing, or language class, you need to spend more time on this part.
If your paper is for science (and sometimes in humanities too), you need to make sure to insert some citations to scientific papers. Do some Google Scholar searches on your topic, read only the abstract of the papers, and be extra sure to write the conclusions into your own words.
It is important that anything you find online, you put into your own words. Most college professors will run your paper against plagiarism checkers and that will be the first thing it checks for.
Final Step: Read, Edit, Delete
The more you wrote, the more flexibility you will have during this step. Read your paper again, making sure to check for any additional spelling or grammar errors. Delete anything not relevant, including filler words like “however”, “thus”, and “therefore”. The only thing to keep in mind is your minimum page requirement.
If you have time, reread your paper a couple more times. Possibly, you can even change the structure of your paper if you find it works better another way. Everything else is optional, but will make your paper better. Do what you can. Good luck! Get started!
Originally posted 2015-03-10 17:46:06.