Last week, I paged through each syllabus for my classes, looking for the page count for all of my papers. Chances are you’ve done the same. There’s always that feeling of joy when a paper that makes up big chunk of your grade is only five or so pages long. A short paper is not so bad, right? Then, on the flip side, there’s that feeling of complete helplessness when the minimum page requirement for a paper is ten pages or more. As I saw that I would be faced with more than one of those this semester, I began to panic. Here’s a list of tips I came up with that I plan on using to conquer my bajillion page papers:
- Start planning early. If you have an English essay about a particular book, start reading it now. If you have a research paper, start brainstorming a topic and head to the library. The beginning of the semester may feel hectic, but you have more time now than you will later on.
- Outline! Outline! Outline! It’s annoying, yes. BUT it will help you stay on track.
- Divide the paper up into smaller pieces. Your paper will feel much more manageable when you only work on a page or two at a time.
- Set up a schedule for working on your paper. If your paper is due in a month, commit to working on it at least two or three times a week until then.
- Just start writing. Remember that even if what you write at first isn’t very good, it’s better than nothing. You can always go back and make changes, but you have to start somewhere.
- If you have any questions about the expectations for your paper, ask your professor right away. It’s better to ask now than to realize that you’ve done something wrong and then have to start over again.
- Take a break if you need to. If you’re getting frustrated or overwhelmed, sometimes it’s best to walk away from the paper for a bit. Do something relaxing for a few minutes and then go back to the paper. Clearing your head will help more than you think.
- Make an appointment at the Writing Center. Or make several appointments with us. We’re here to help!
– Rebekah, peer tutor