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Five Tips to Nail Your Papers

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wake Forest chapter.

It’s this time of the years and yes, I’m drowning in papers again. Papers are painstaking. They require a lot of reading, writing and brainwork to pick pieces of information from each source and reorganized them into a brand-new piece that makes sense to the professor. Although I am very frustrated by everything I need to write right now, I decided to share some of my tips on writing papers/essays that have helped me in the past two years as a social science major. Way to go pals, summer break is on its way (or not)!

1. Make outlines

I think it’s always the best to have an idea of what you are going to write before actually dipping into your writings. Making an outline can help you develop clear structures and make sure your paper is not all over the place. I also find it time-saving to have an outline beforehand and know where to proceed instead of simply diving into the paper without any clue.

2. DO NOT procrastinate!

We all have the habit to procrastinate, but that’s honestly one of the worst things to do in life. Although procrastination is generally very bad for your health and the quality of your work, I feel it is worse for things like research papers the naturally require a lot of time to do. I once pulled an all-nighter on the last day of finals week to get a take-home final exam done. I turned it in on time, but that piece was so bad that I didn’t even want to go back and look at it. My very old-fashioned but truthful suggestion is to start as early as you can. Since you probably have other homework to do during the week, giving yourself more time is always a good idea. Also, it is helpful to try to keep track of your process. You can set some goals for yourself such as finishing the outlines today and get the introductory part done by Monday.

3. Leave your writings for a while and then come back to it

If you are currently stuck and have no idea about how to continue on your writings, do not keep staring at it because you are very unlikely to come up with great ideas at the moment. Try to leave your writing for a while by either reading more about the topics or switching to work on something else. Well, just try not to start binge watching Netflix or YouTube…I learned this from my WRI111 class and it has been working amazingly for me thus far. This strategy helps make sure your brain is refreshed every time you are working on your writing rather than wasting your time and being unproductive.

4. Talk with your professor and visit the Writing Center!!

I find it extremely helpful to consult my professors before starting to write. They’ll help me develop my topics, narrow them down, give me detailed directions about how to do research and sometimes even refine my outlines. Most of the professors I have met so far at Wake are very helpful and willing to do what they can to help you improve your writing. Knowing their opinions may also give you a sense of confidence as you proceed into the writing. The Writing Center is another very helpful recourse on campus. I go there to work on pretty much every essay or paper I write. And even when I’m not having troubles writing, I will just read through the whole paper with them to fix some grammar mistakes and see if there’s any flaw in the logic of the paper.

5. Choose to write about something you are interested in

Again, paper writing is generally very time consuming. It’s important to find a topic that you are willing to spend time on. Start by brainstorming topics you have strong opinions on or things you want to learn more about. My trip to Israel and Palestine last summer inspired at least two of my research papers on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the following school year. I was very devoted to my research and (I know it may sound weird but) those research papers are two of the best pieces I’ve ever written. Research papers are painstaking, but they are worth the pain if you feel like you’ve had some fun and learned a lot by doing them.


Gifs courtesy of giphy.com

Joanne is a senior at Wake Forest University majoring in international relations and econ. She loves traveling and experiencing different cultures, especially food. She is a HUGE sports enthusiast. She writes about all the little things she loves in her daily life. She wastes most of her time watching TV shows and movies. 
Hailing from Chicago, this Midwesterner turned Southern Belle is the Editor-in-Chief of Wake Forest University's chapter. When she isn't journaling for fun in her free time, she is obsessed with running around campus in giant sunglasses, wearing gold glitter eyeliner, and munching on trail mix. She's still struggling on saying "y'all" and not "guys" and has yet to try Cookout's legendary milkshakes. Follow her on twitter @Hmonyek!