If those trips down to the demos in Westminster have left you behind schedule for your end-of-term assignment, you may well be forced to write in the small hours this week. Here's how to pull it off safely and successfully.
12am: Get as far away from your bed as possible
Before you begin, avoid warmth and soft furnishings. Propped up on pillows in the glow of a laptop may feel like savvy ergonomics, but your keyboard will start to look pillow-like by midnight, and 418 pages of the word "gf64444444444444444444" will detract from the force of your argument. You could try the kitchen. Or Krakow. But your industrially lit 24-hour campus library should do the trick.
12:25am: Take a catnap
Thomas Edison used to catnap through the night with a steel ball in his hand. As he relaxed and the ball dropped, he would wake up, usually with fresh ideas. "Caffeine and a short nap make a very effective combination," says Jim Horne, director of the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre. "Have the coffee first. This takes about 20 minutes to work, so take a 15-minute nap. Use an alarm to wake up and avoid deep sleep kicking in. Do this twice throughout the night."
12.56am: Reduce your internet options
Temporarily block Twitter, Spotify, Group Hug, YouTube, 4od and anything else that distracts you. Constantly updating your word count on Facebook may feel like fun, but to everyone else you'll look like you're constantly updating your word count on Facebook.
1-3am: Now write your essay. No, really
You've widened your margins, subtly enlarged your font and filled your bibliography with references of such profound obscurity that no one will notice you're missing 3,000 words. It's time to brainstorm, outline, carve words, followed by more words, into that milk-white oblivion that taunts you. Speed-read articles. Key-word Google Books. Remember texts you love and draw comparisons. Reword. Expound. Invent. Neologise. Get excited. Find a problem you can relish and keep writing. While others flit from point to point, your impassioned and meticulous analysis of a single contention is music to a marker's eyes.
3-5am: Get lost in your analysis, your characters, your world Write like you're trying to convince the most stubborn grammarian about truth, or heartless alien invaders about love. Don't overload with examples – be creative with the ones you have. Detail will save your life, but don't waste time perfecting sentences – get the bulk down first and clean up later. "The progress of any writer," said Ted Hughes, "is marked by those moments when he manages to outwit his own inner police system." Outwit your own inner police system. Expect progress. Ted says so.
5:01am: Don't cheat
It's about now that websites such as easyessay.co.uk will start to look tempting. And you may sleep easier knowing that a dubiously accredited Italian yoga instructor is writing about Joyce instead of you. But the guilt will keep you up between now and results day. And you'll toss and turn the night before graduation, job interviews, promotions, dinner parties, children's birthdays, family funerals . . . you get the idea.
5.17am: Don't die
Sounds obvious, but dying at your computer is definitely trending. And however uncool it may seem to "pass on" during a five-day stint at World of Warcraft, it will be much more embarrassing to die explaining perspectivism to no one in particular. So be careful. Stay hydrated. Blink occasionally. And keep writing.
5.45am: Eat something simple
"There are no foods that are particularly good at promoting alertness," says Horne. "But avoid heavy and fatty meals in the small hours. Avoid very sugary drinks that don't contain caffeine, too. Sugar is not very effective in combating sleepiness." Fun fact: an apple provides you with more energy than a cup of coffee. Now stick the kettle on.
5.46am: Delight in being a piece of living research
If you happen to be "fatigue resistant" you should now be enjoying the enhanced concentration, creative upwelling and euphoric oneness that sleep deprivation can bring. If not, try talking yourself into it. "Conversation keeps you awake," says Horne. "So talk to a friend or even to yourself – no one will hear you."
6am: Console yourself with lists of writers who stuck it out
Robert Frost was acquainted with the night. Dumas, Kafka, Dickens, Coleridge, Sartre, Poe and Breton night-walked and trance-wrote their way to literary distinction. John and Paul wrote A Hard Day's Night in the small hours. Herman the Recluse, atoning for broken monastic vows, is said to have written the Codex Gigas on 320 sheets of calfskin during a single night in 1229. True, he'd sold his soul to the Devil, but you're missing out on a live Twitter feed, so it's swings and roundabouts.
7am: Remember – art is never finished, only abandoned
Once you accept there's no more you can do, print it off and get to the submissions office quick. Horne: "You're not fit to drive if you've had less than five hours sleep, so don't risk it. Grab some exercise." Pop it in with the breeziness that comes from being top of your marker's pile. Back home, unblock Facebook and start buffering The Inbetweeners. And then sleep. Get as near to your bed as you can. Euphoric oneness doesn't come close.
Matt Shoard teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.
So, it’s Saturday night, and you got a 3000 word headache – that’s an essay you have to submit on Monday and you don’t have a clue …how to start, where to begin and what to write? What do you really do? What about the party you want to go to? FFS – you would rather drink carbon dioxide and choke in Mars, than write that dreaded essay. OK, in normal circumstances you would fret over an essay that’s long and tortuous. But, if you are cool, go sleep.
That’s right. Just sleep on it, because I’ll tell you how to write a 3000-word freaking long essay in just about a few hours. Wake up Sunday morning – 3000 words, 3 hours – and you’re done. Pure. Undiluted. Genius. How about that? So, how do you write a super-long essay in a super-short period of time? How long does it take to write a 1000-word essay or a 3000-word essay? Usually a 1000-word essay should not take more than 2 hours and a 3000-word essay should not take more than 5-6 hours for a seasoned writer, but I will tell you how to go faster than that, and how to write that essay in half-the-time, needed by even a professional essay writer. The keyword is “focus”. It is very important that you focus on what you write. When you are distracted, it takes an inordinately long time to get any information on paper or on the computer for that matter.
A college student who has never written an essay or only scrambled a few words or class notes on a page would probably take a day or even two or three days to write a 3000-word essay. It’s a battle with the brains and an endless struggle with the keyboard. But if you know the tricks of the trade, if you know how to write fast and write smart, it’s a breeze, you can knock it off in just 3-4 hours.
How? If you ask me how long it would take to write a 500-word essay, it should take less than 30 minutes and a 1500 word essay should take an hour or 70 minutes max. Really? I am not really drunk or smoking pot as I write this, I’m telling you what’s completely plausible. The trick is to remember the three Rs – read, recollect, regurgitate. Finally, you don’t create information, all information that you use in your essay, will have to be rehashed and reused from other primary and secondary sources, especially when you are writing factual, objective content rather than subjective or reflective content. Reflective content, such as reflective essays cannot be rehashed, you have to use your own experiences. But remember, you need to be creative and original at all times, no matter what type of essay you are writing. Here’s an example. You are given an essay topic – say, on the Theory of Evolution and you must write it in your own words and answer the specific essay question or the research topic. Try to avoid Wikipedia and Copy-paste, frankly that doesn’t help you to learn and the University will kick you out anyway. So, what would be the best way to approach the problem, so that you can finally ace a really long and difficult essay, in just a few hours?
Don’t Copy-Paste….don’t do it! / Image Source: Tumblr
Usually a 3000-word essay will take about a day for a meticulous student or a non-seasoned writer. However, with these simple tricks and ten steps, you can knock off your big, OMG-WTF-IDK- essay in less than 3-4 hours. Just remember to follow these steps and focus. As I wrote, attention is very important, you cannot remain distracted while you are writing an essay. Your attention will give you the precision and the speed you need to write a super-fast essay.
So, if you’re ready, here are the steps.
Collect your references and resources. Go google, pull down the library literally or simply use the catalog, that’s easier. Everything works. Use the search engine, type your search terms and download the research papers or books you need for the essay. Look up all the sources you need – the author’s original book – check, original source of the research topic – check, research papers – check, student dissertations – check, web sources on the Theory of Evolution or the essay topic – check. Finally, you have the resources you need and that’s the first important step. You should not take more than 30 minutes to gather all your resources, if you look up your library catalog and internet search engines or develop your own creative ways to search for sources, it should be an easy and enjoyable process.
Read up all the material you have collected. Again, be creative during the reading process, understand what works best for you and how you can learn fast and easily. Read the simple or easy papers and explanations first, then move to the more academic or scholarly ones, which means follow the “bottom-up approach” to learning, it sure helps. If you are extremely intellectual or scholarly type, go straight into the scholarly papers and you’ll be fine. Read these resources and reading material quickly and thoroughly, and you should be done in 30 minutes. Remember to read only those parts that are directly relevant to your essay because that saves time, and being a bit selective about your reading will increase your efficiency, and effectiveness of the entire reading process.
Once you are confident that you have a good understanding of the topic, write down the main points. This means, create a new word document on the computer, jot down the primary points you will include and list all the references you want to include, you can do the formatting later, so don’t bother about it in the beginning . Use a heading, sub-heading if needed, running head if required, and title as required by the specified citation style. Check out more about citation styles here. Your paper should start looking like a well thought-out outline, and the structure should be in place. So, now you have the skeleton or bare bones of the paper ready with the title, references and main points, so you’re all set. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Let’s say now that you’ve checked in and ready for the wild ride.
Fast is a wild ride / Image source: howtoplaza.com
This is when the ride really begins. Go back and read your resources again and this time, read according to the skeleton or structure you have created. So, you have the points, go back and read the details for the points. Read and store the points in your memory and if you forget, go back and read again. Yes, re-read the main points and the details, then memorize. This is the basic learning process and read your material several times to feel confident and comfortable with your content. Developing a sense of familiarity with the content or the topic is very important when you want to present it in your own way. This process should not take more than 30 minutes. So, now two hours of your time is gone, and your paper is ready for you to take a dive..
You guessed it. Take the dive. Recollect what you read, and it should be easy actually. Write down all that you can remember really fast, don’t worry about spellings and grammar at this time. Write all that you can remember like you’re on a fast and wild ride, in a jet boat or a rocketship or something. Yes, imagine yourself moving really fast, on a rocketship or a jet boat and go real fast on your keyboard. Check the primary points you have noted and write all the details for each point. This should not take more than 30 minutes if you really focus. Did I say focus? Forget all the external noise, the background music and your neighbors’ bickerings, just focus and write very fast. You got speed? Test it!
Test your speed / Image source: hongkiat.com
Once you are done writing the details – your draft is almost half-done. Go back and check the resources, see whether you missed out or messed up on certain points. Read these thoroughly and get back to your computer and start writing again and edit as you go. Read and re-read. Include the missing points and write as fast as you can – again don’t worry about spelling or grammar or formatting. Just write, and rewrite.
In an hour or 90 minutes, you’ll probably realize that you have written enough and that your rough draft is almost ready for some dressing up – 1000 words? Probably done, 2000 words? Almost done. 3000 words? Maybe, needs some more meat (means substance) or dressing (additional details). A to 2 hours to write as you would require additional details 3000-word essay will probably take around 90 minutes and additional substance and content. By the end of the 90 minutes, you should be done constructing and writing a real, full-blown essay that you know will wow your friends. How does that feel?
So Voila, you did it! You wrote an essay! Not exactly climbing the Mount Everest or winning the Wimbledon match maybe, but close – you achieved something. Now, this next step is to read the entire essay. Try to understand what you’ve written, whether the essay and your arguments make sense, whether it flows smoothly, whether it has a structure and whether it is relevant to the topic or answers the research or essay question. Answering the essay question and adhering to the relevant direction of the topic are very important points you must remember. Also, you must edit, edit and edit. Then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite to get a final, smooth, and polished essay.
But wait….you’re not really done. Remember what you actually did not do? You must do the formatting, spelling, grammar check for your essay and add all the accessories. Doing a spell check and grammar check is mandatory and makes you look like a seasoned essay writer, rather than just another college guy pulling off an accidental piece of writing. You can even use some of the spell and grammar tools available on the web. There are some integrated spell and grammar features in the word document software, so use that. Or use Grammarly and other software available on the internet. However, in many cases, it is best to use your own knowledge, because sometimes these tools may not be reliable. Format the essay correctly according to the citation style that your school asked for, add page numbers, headers, and format paragraphs, and references. Give it around 30 minutes and the formatting, spell check, and grammar should be done.
Editing is serious business / Image source: houzz.com
The last step is doing a plagiarism check, to see whether you missed quotation marks, whether your words or sentences are similar to the original authors, then use references and citations. You know if you don’t do a plagiarism check, you’ll be booted out of the University and in that case, you can’t really re-boot. Check the citations, add citations and references and check to see whether you missed a few points or whether there are missing references. Do all that and make your paper ready for submission. The last preparation phase should not take more than 15 minutes and bam – print it. You’re done.
Congratulations! Your big, fat, freaking essay is now done – in 3 hours or probably less than 4 hours- so, now what? Repeat the – party.
Don’t get stuck….p(r)ep up / Image Source: Pinterest
Conclusion / Notes:
There are several points you must remember while writing an essay really fast. I talked about focus, resource collection, reading, memorizing, writing fast, editing and spell check, checking grammar and other details. One thing that slows down essay writers is a boring topic, and another thing is distraction. As I advised, shut off your surroundings for a few hours to keep the distraction away, it’s all on your mind. Kick out the boredom – the topic can become very interesting if you develop this spirit of adventurism and go a bit deeper about the subject matter. Let’s say, you are doing AI research and already bored with algorithms and stuff like that, go online and check videos on AI applications, killer robots and try to imagine how your knowledge can actually save the world. Finding a greater purpose always helps and you’ll be all motivated and pepped up to take on just not an essay, but the entire coursework. Remember the steps above and good luck writing your next essay, whether you are a student writing your first essay, a researcher writing your tenth essay or a professional essay writer writing your 100th essay. The same rules apply for everyone and it is about developing focus, motivation and interest. Love what you do and you can take on the world.