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Writing a Paper When You Really Don’t Want To

As we get to the last couple of months of the semester, the papers start to pile up and you just get so overwhelmed that instead of starting papers, you just have a blank doc open on your computer. Here are a few of my favourite tips that I have collected over the years of my undergrad that have helped greatly when not knowing what to write. 


  1. Copy and Paste the Question and/or Rubric onto the Doc

I find this to be one of the best motivators for me. As a visual learner, I need to have what I’m doing within reach so I can refer to it when my mind wanders. As well, after I answer a part of the question, I am able to delete it from the Doc. In the end, the entire question disappears and I have a completed paper. 

2. Brainstorm and Break Down the Topic

Most essays follow the basic model of intro, thesis, a couple of body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Just thinking about all the work that goes into those makes me want to stop writing. But! Don’t let that stop you! Before writing, find your topic and then break it down into the themes that you want to talk about or analyze, and then, before you know it, you have your body paragraphs!

3. Don’t Try to Force Writing

Forcing your writing never works out. It’s stressful and most of the time, it is not your best work. If you don’t have any ideas, just stop and walk away for a bit. I find that going for a walk or taking a bath helps my mind reset and I can look at what I have with a new pair of eyes. 

4. Write Out of Order (or Over A Couple of Days)

Professors always say to start with your thesis and work from there. Listen, you don’t have to! When writing, I’ll write my body paragraphs and then go back to the thesis. Or, if I do write a thesis, it’s normally a really bad one and I’ll go back and revise it MULTIPLE times before I am fully satisfied with it. This also goes with revisions; if you are writing in Word, have your paper read to you by the program, as you are more likely to catch mistakes while listening than you are by re-reading the same paper over and over again. 

5. Do Research

 Basically, if a question really stumps me, or my thoughts have just dried up, I’ll Google the question. I find that by reading articles and doing a bit of research, I will get new ideas and find more to add to my paper. However, this is one of the tips that you have to be careful with to avoid accidentally plagiarizing.


These are just a few ways that can help you write papers. It really is up to you and how you approach your paper, but I find that these are the best methods that help me write. 

Now, with all of these in mind, I wish you the best of luck in writing your papers…and I totally didn’t write this article instead of writing my own paper.

Carly Coombe is currently in her last year of Teacher's College for P/J, additionally with an Honour Bachelors Degree in English and History. When she’s not busy balancing school and work, she often volunteers her time as a Girl Guide leader for a local unit or is working on her small business, which has taken off since quarantine. She will always be found with her nose in the latest book, sometimes even ones that have not been published yet. She aspires to earn her TEFL degree and become an English and History high school teacher.
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