During my first year at K, I’ve written a ton of papers. I would guess between 20 and 30 total, ranging in length. That might be due to my heavy focus on the humanities (history and religion departments really like papers), but it’s also part of the college experience. That being said, these are my five major stages of writing a paper (with an appropriate reaction). Let me know if you agree with my assessment in the comment section below!
1. Getting super excited about your topic
This is the time period soon after you receive your paper assignment but before you do any research. It’s defined by being unable to discuss anything besides your topic, often telling your parents or random strangers about this interesting issue. It can last up to one week, but usually disappears as the research process begins.
This time period will be defined by the continuous up-and-down emotional roller coaster that is research. Perhaps you find a wonderful source only to realize that the author was widely discredited soon after the source was published. Or you find out that the topic you had chosen was too narrow to find any primary sources that relate. In any case, this stage can often lead to tears and a massive junk food binge (I tend to lean towards Cheetos).
I’m pretty confident that this stage occurs in every educational building in the entire world, but at K, I feel like it manifests itself in a different way. Instead of watching Netflix or hanging out with friends (okay, that kind of procrastination happens a lot too), I find myself procrastinating by doing other schoolwork. It’s almost like a way to avoid the reality of not accomplishing what I need to accomplish…just accomplish something else!
4. The moment of truth
This stage doesn’t always happen, and I’ve certainly struggled through papers where I never have this moment. But when it happens, it’s the best part of the whole experience! This stage will present itself as just more research, just another book or article that might relate to your overall topic, but as you read through it, you will realize that it holds the key to your entire argument. You will begin to smile to yourself, no matter where you are (okay, let’s be honest, you’re going to be in the library). A sense of confidence will overpower you, and you will begin to write your paper accordingly. You will constantly look to that source for inspiration as the difference between procrastination and the final stage: success.
One of the best moments is the one in which you realize that you wrote a good paper and that you don’t need to worry about it ever again. Running up to the third floor of Dewing (don’t let the signs trick you, it’s actually the fourth floor) after stapling your final copy (with the world’s most terrifying stapler in the library) is a welcome workout. Losing your breath (unless you’re incredibly in shape) is a sign that you have done it, you have succeeded. The final moments of the paper writing process is full of joy, even if it isn’t your best work. Then you get to start working on the next paper.