Earlier in the semester I was a substitute for one of my wife’s high school classes while she was spending time with our newborn son. My wife requires the students write a final research paper by the semester’s end so part of my job was to get them thinking about a suitable topic to write about. This situation forced me to think about how, exactly, one can prepare themselves to write. Writing, then, is my subject for today.
I’ve spoken about note-taking before but it is extremely important when you are thinking about writing. It is even more important if you are going to have to write something by the end of the semester. When you are taking notes you should flag topics or thoughts that interest you. Whether you highlight, put a star next to, or circle interesting things in your textbooks this will make the process of finding a topic for your paper much easier when the time actually comes. You will have already started without even knowing it. Selecting the proper topic is always extremely important. Also, if you pick a topic that your instructor says won’t work you’ll already have a list of other topics to choose from.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about procrastination. I don’t even really like that word because it has become something people simply say about themselves as if it is a fact of who they are. The truth is this: set a deadline and stick to it. In fact, set multiple deadlines. Set a due date for an outline. Set a due date for a rough draft. Set a due date for a first draft. These simple things will help you progress more easily. You should also, lastly, schedule time to work on your paper regularly. Whether it is every day or a few days a week. Even if it is just 15 – 30 minutes that time will add up and that work will mean something.