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As I moved through college, however, I developed a system for cranking out papers in record time.
The flat outline gives you just enough structure to overcome the dreaded “blank canvas” while still leaving room for discovery.
Okay, so you have a rock solid understanding of the topic, you’ve done your research, and your flat outline is ready. But not so fast: where you write makes a difference.
The goal of your initial research session is to give you just enough material to start writing.
Get into the library or database, find your sources, take your notes, and then get to writing.“It’s impossible to figure out every detail of your argument before you sit down, look at your sources, and actually try to write.
It doesn’t matter how good a paper is–if it doesn’t answer the question, it’s going to receive a bad grade.
Best case scenario, the professor is nice and lets you rewrite it, but why do all that extra work?To overcome the temptation to procrastinate on research, I employ my favorite approach for beating all forms of procrastination: setting a time limit.As I explained in my guide to library research, you shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes per page of the final paper researching.Yet, when I was an English TA in college, I saw this problem all the time.Students would spend hours researching and writing a paper on a completely different topic than what the professor assigned.After all, writing a paper isn’t like working math problems or reading a chapter of a book.As frustrating as those activities can be, they always seemed more finite than the monumental task of “writing a paper.” You can’t just open the book and start working: you have to brainstorm, research, outline, draft, edit, and add those pesky citations.I always just made one up afterwards because I was to turn one in with the final paper.Starting in college, I developed my own outlining technique that was much more effective.No one sits down to write with a perfect idea of what they’re going to say.You discover what you’re going to say through the process of writing.