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How to Write a Paper in One Night

It's a college tradition

By Matthew DonnellonPublished 5 years ago 3 min read
Top Story - December 2019
Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash

Before I was a professional writer, like many other writers, I was a writing student. An English major to be more precise. And that required the writing of approximately six thousand papers.

So it’s fun to look back on those days. So if you’ve been in that position before, or maybe you’re student and you’re in that situation currently, then keep reading.

We’ve all been there. The paper that you’ve been putting off for the last few weeks is suddenly due tomorrow. I mean you’ve known about it the entire time, but the date tends to sneak up on you.

Maybe you wrote it down on your calendar wrong because you went to school in the nineties. Maybe it got lost on your iPhone, lost between Twitter and Snapchat is that lonely calendar app with “Hamlet Paper-10 Pages due.” Now, you have to write the paper in mere hours and hope that it passes at least some standard. This article will tell you exactly what you should do. Though I would take any advice given with a grain of salt.

First. You Panic.

Then cry.

Cry some more.

Maybe avoid crying on the keyboard, because “my computer didn’t work because I’m a failure and filled my keyboard with the products of overactive tear ducts” doesn’t go over well. Also, they will not take notes from your mother, trust me I’ve tried.

Second. Continue panicking. Maybe freak out a little bit. Question how much do you even need this class. Perhaps check with the registrar. They usually say you need it but you never know.

Third, open the laptop, unless you are a hipster; no judgments if you are, but this the most likely tool for the job. Pick your favorite word processor, be it Word, Google Docs, Scrivener (not that I think anyone writes a college paper in Scrivener). I suggest at this time that you place some sort of keyboard protector that prevents water damage. Not only does it provide protection from errant spills, it will protect your most prized possession while having breakdowns.

Between bouts of frenzied instability, you need to get writing. This is the only piece of advice that I would consider taking seriously.


Write more.

Keep writing.

This is the only thing that will get you through the night. You need to get words on paper, or in this case pixels on a screen. It’s like running a race. One step at a time. One sentence after another. You have to keep the cursor moving across the page.

The trickiest part of writing a college paper is coming up with credible sources. Many students are tempted to use Wikipedia or Google. And tempting as it might be, resist the urge to simply fill out the paper with copied and pasted sections from various websites. This will get you into far more trouble than it’s worth. It’s better to not hand a paper in at all than to commit academic malfeasance. Also, every teacher and professor have a hundred ways to tell if you’ve done this.

Instead of hastily constructed arguments filled with sections of Reddit’s finest, go to the library and grab as many books as you can. This might seem like more work, but books are a quick way to show more effort. If you’re in this position, a references sheet with blogs and Facebook posts are going to raise red flags, and they scream all-nighter. Books are your friends here, specifically the first chapter of every book. Find the quotes that are at least somewhat related to your topic.

I assure you, when your professor leafs through your paper and sees twelve books on the bibliography, it will earn you some much-needed goodwill.

And you can just type in the titles to Google Scholar and it will make the citation for you.

And, you know, if it doesn’t work, I hear Starbucks is a fun place to work.

What you should not do is hand in a blank stack of paper with a crisp 100-dollar bill paper clipped to the last page. This will bring more questions than it is worth.

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About the Creator

Matthew Donnellon

Twitter: m_donnellon

Instagram: msdonnellonwrites

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    Matthew DonnellonWritten by Matthew Donnellon

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