5 Ways to Write a Paper Without Going Cross-Eyed

How to totally own the paper writing process for college classes.

Next to choking down dining hall food and living with people who don’t shower, writing papers is arguably the least fun part about being in college. The paper writing process can be tedious, involved, and only slightly less stressful than getting shoved off a cliff. Follow these five easy steps in order to write a good paper while also keeping your sanity in tact (We're promising big things here, I know.)

1. Begin your process at least three days before the paper’s due.

I hate to be the barer of harsh truths, but if you start your paper six hours before you have to turn it in, it’s going to be very, very mediocre at best. Also, you are guaranteed to go cross-eyed, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. Remember, papers are like a fine wine – they get better with age, so give them some time to breathe. (Is this metaphor holding up? Not really? Okay, moving on to number two…)

Remember: the more involved your outline, the less likely you are to panic five hours before your deadline, crying to your mother and shoving Oreos into your mouth.

2. Choose a topic that actually interests you.

You’re much more likely to write a good paper if the topic you pick at least mildly intrigues you. So, if reading Shakespeare puts you to sleep in five seconds flat, maybe don’t try to write 15 pages about his work. Or, if you have to write 15 pages about his work (God’s speed, you poor thing), pick something about his plays that peaks your interest, like the excessive use of violence or the consistent cross-dressing. You’re intrigued already, right?

3. Do your research, picking out relative quotes as you go.

This will help you formulate your argument, making your writing process way easier later on. And don’t be afraid of long, meaty quotes, as large chunks of these will help you reach that page number quota. It’s kind of like cheating, if cheating was something that excellent students with fabulous integrity did.

4. Write a serious, hefty outline.

Now, take those big quote chunks, build arguments around them, and try to touch upon every point you want to make in the paper. Remember: the more involved your outline, the less likely you are to panic five hours before your deadline, crying to your mother and shoving Oreos into your mouth. The goal is to turn this paper in with your grace and dignity still in tact.

5. Get calm, get caffeinated and get writing.

Congratulations, the worst is over! You already know what you want to say; now you just need to deliver the information in a way that flows and makes sense. Try writing your body paragraphs first and then your introduction and conclusion paragraphs last. It may seem a bit backwards, but your very first paragraph will be easier to write if you know exactly what you’re introducing. Oh, and consider turning your Wi-Fi off. Perez Hilton is not going to help you analyze Faulkner’s use of symbolism in "As I Lay Dying."

Once you’ve mastered these steps, writing papers can actually be pretty fun – the kind of fun you dread beforehand, despise during and would prefer to avoid experiencing again, but fun nonetheless. Happy writing!

Quick Tips

  • Start ahead of time.
  • Don’t choose a topic you hate.
  • Gather a ton of quotes.
  • Outline feverishly.
  • Avoid your internet browser at all costs.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

How to Write College Papers
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College Essays: Tips and Sample Questions
College Majors with Papers, College Majors with Tests

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