Nearly everyone procrastinates when it comes to term papers. One of the leading reasons that people put off working on writing assignments is because they are unsure where to begin the long, arduous task of putting something coherent together. By following these seven easy, discrete steps, you will have a much smoother time writing your term paper without procrastinating.
Read your instructor’s rubric and instructions very closely. Take notes on exactly what is expected of you in the assignment, and highlight or underline key information. Reread your course syllabus and look at how the overall grade for the course is computed; sometimes syllabi offer additional information on how to complete a task. Ask questions in class or in an email if anything is vague or ambiguous.
If you are being asked to write about a topic, it has probably been covered in class. Re-read required reading, even if it is from a few weeks in the past. Read parts of your text, notes, and course supplemental materials that are relevant, even if they were not required. The more raw material you have to work with, the better.
That’s right, wait! Research shows that creativity occurs when a person has a chance to think deeply about a topic and then forget it for a short period. Prepare for your term paper way ahead of time, then give yourself a few days off. You subconscious will help you figure out the right way to complete the paper.
Don’t fly blind. After doing some research and preparing (and taking a break to wait), outline the exact format of your paper. Begin broadly and get more specific. Plan out every paragraph if you can.
Use your outline and your pre-existing knowledge to create a more detailed, fleshed out version of the paper outline. Write as much as you can without retreating to your texts. You can return and add citations later (see below). Just try to flesh out your outline and get the ideas on the page. Don’t listen to your “inner editor” at this point.
After writing a first draft, go back and use your resources to add relevant citations, missing information, and correct names, dates, statistics, and other relevant figures.
Wait again! It is much easier to catch typos, strangely worded sentences, and factual errors if you take a few days off and approach the term paper with a fresh pair of eyes. This requires that you start your paper early enough to allow for some editing time, of course! After a few days have passed, read the rough draft out loud and correct anything that seems strange or incorrect.
At the end of this process, your reward will be a well-organized, well researched paper that has been fully reviewed and edited more than once, with little to no trouble at all!