Chances are that if you’ve searched for “how to write a college paper in one night,” you are procrastinating. That’s usually why we end up in scenarios where we have one night to finish a paper. In fact, some of us, including myself, often decide to procrastinate the same night the paper is due.You need to develop the ability to get things done earlier. This will put you ahead of half the population when it comes to a variety of things in life. It’s a big advantage, and it benefits you. If I tell my friend I will do half of the vacuuming, it would be selfish to do none of it. Why don’t we treat ourselves with the same respect? We let our procrastinating self do nothing, and we leave our future self to suffer. Then we are mad at “ourselves.” How about trying a fair approach and spreading things out?
Before I give you the real details, I feel it’s important to stress the importance of breaking this habit. I used to have a course that required a paper every other week. Once every two weeks, I stayed up all night. This caused health problems. Today, I never stay up all night. My body just doesn’t let me. Frankly, if you’re finding yourself in this situation, I’d get a doctor’s note. Explain the situation and take steps to address it. Consider being honest with your professor. Tell them that you felt writing a bad paper and putting their body at risk was just as irresponsible as procrastinating in the first place. Let them know you understand that a late penalty may be necessary, but you’d appreciate it if they might wave it and offer advice for the future.
A doctor’s note is a guarantee, but most teachers or professors will assume you are lying to the doctor. Some will even lower your grade. When it comes to high school and university papers, they are marked generously. When you get back an 80%, they could’ve found more mistakes if they had decided to grade harsher. They just grade at a certain level for everyone to avoid discouraging students and save time. So if they think you’re cheating the system, they’ll do that. I actually was legitimately ill, but I couldn’t be bothered to get the note. However, the course allowed me to drop that paper and do a longer paper. I got the grade I got on the other paper, exactly. The other paper had the mark after the late penalty. The new paper had the same mark without a late penalty mentioned (but obviously added). I didn’t complain because I shouldn’t have been too lazy to get the note, and it’s still “possible” it was a coincidence.
Now if you insist on writing a paper in one night, let’s clarify some things. If it’s a paper that you can write in one night easily, you don’t really need a guide. You just write the paper. We often need to finish papers we in one night even though we should have spent days on them. So how do we go about this. Well, there are many of strategies.
Obviously, you need to stay awake. You might be staying up all night so avoid caffeine until you see your performance falling. As you drink more caffeine, it’s going to help you less. Furthermore, many people don’t realize that sipping caffeine over time is more effective than drinking it quickly. However, like many things in life, caffeine works best in moderation. With no caffeine, you’ll fall asleep or accomplish nothing. With too much, you’ll get distracted, make spelling errors, or potentially make no sense. Some doctors support casual use of stimulants (typically used for ADD). I wouldn’t recommend it for most people, but it might be worth talking to your doctor about anyway. Caffeine is stimulant with less effectiveness and slightly less addictiveness. While stimulants can be addictive, hence why you should talk to a doctor, the addictiveness of them when used properly is very lowly and greatly exaggerated. Chances are though, you should stick with caffeine unless you had ADD, depression, or some other specific situation that calls for stronger stimulants.
Avoid taking breaks. People say to take studying breaks. Unless you’re writing the paper because you work like a dog and have serious commitments, you probably are a procrastinator. That means if you take a break, you probably don’t have the discipline to get back to work. Breaks might work for some people, but I’d warn against them. Drinking water regularly, listening to music, and light but healthy snacks can be beneficial. However, I’d suggest snacks be something that requires little hand interference. For instance, eat a few quick pieces of fruit or a cookie.
Now the essay itself is what we want to do. If we’ve got our low distraction zone and supplies ready, we have to write something. As I mentioned earlier, we waited too long to start. You probably need quotations. Flip through the book for quotations that are vague, insightful, and broad. Write things that work around these quotations. If you write what comes to mind, you’ll need to look for quotations that fit your argument. Unless you know the book well, and you probably didn’t read it at all (I know how school works), you are going to waste a lot of time. I’ve wasted three hours on quotations at the expense of the quality of the essay itself. Quotations are only a small portion. How much significance your instructor places on them should influence the time you spend on this part of the essay.
Don’t try to make sentences longer. This gives you a worse grade on the essay. The increased length or saved time doesn’t win out over the overly long sentences like this sentence where I talk about how sentences can be too long. See how annoying that is? You’ll get a better mark if you write decent sentences and go under the word count. The profs just guess, generally, and despite what they say, you can sometimes get away with very simple spacing issues. Depending on your program, 0.02 and similarly low degree changes aren’t noticeable after a professor has been marking thirty papers.
Keep your topic focused. Now you can get broad if you are really stressed for time. This allows you to go in multiple directions without getting lost for ideas. You’ll likely get a worse mark doing that, however, so I’d recommend focusing on one thing and being very precise. Don’t be afraid to be dull. Teachers tell you to write as if they are stupid and haven’t read the book. I despise this because you know they aren’t stupid and have read the book. And if you end up writing essays for a living, you’ll be read by people who aren’t stupid and have read the book. That being said, you literally can explain simple terms in the novel or essay. Did they use an old type of wheel? When you introduce the word, say what the wheel is. They’ll just be happy you paid attention. I study philosophy. If I wrote on John Stuart Mill, I’d explain the term utilitarianism. Even if the essay was on his writings about utilitarianism, I’d still get a better mark for defining the term. It’s silly in my view, but it’s an easy way to increase your word count and get a better grade.
Reference things you already said in a unique way. Make comparisons between characters and keep coming back to your thesis. If you say “Hamlet was a depressed person” and argue for it that’s great. If you’re also writing about Macbeth, make a comparison to Hamlet. Macbeth was depressed because of people trying to pressure him to succeed through unjust means (not necessarily true just an example). Unlike Hamlet, Macbeth was not the legitimate heir to the throne so we might interpret them in different moral ways.
There is another great thing. Introducing opportunities to make moral analysis is very useful. Don’t be controversial. Make statements like. If we agree presume that murder is wrong, as most people would agree, we may be justified in criticizing Macbeth. Moral analysis done properly is an incredibly easy way to increase word count. Morality has so many aspects. If you can make morality a theme in your essay, word count and difficulty will decrease dramatically assuming you can argue about morality properly. Avoid words like “obvious.” Be willing to accept that people might disagree even about statements like “killing babies is wrong.” Using phrases like “I suspect the reader will grant the commonplace intuition that killing babies is wrong. Thus, we might question the moral character of J.J the baby destroyer.” Being open-minded is a refreshing sight for instructors. You can’t be expected to prove every moral judgments but rather make them based on commonly shared beliefs. Being humble about things like murder can also be seen as a humorous commentary on the nature of academic essays.
Really, I suggest warping the topic as much as possible. Make it loosely related to whatever assigned topic you have. If you choose the topic, even better. Then have fun lambasting the integrity of characters unable to defend themselves while contrasting the personalities and themes within particular or multiple texts. Good luck. And when you’re done, you’ll be relieved. But before you go to sleep or head to class, write down a reminder to address the procrastination problem. As you feel a rush of relief and the pleasure of an overdue sleep, you’ll feel great in the morning because of the contrast the the feelings you had during your writing process. This will stand a good chance of making you underestimate the serious frustration that occurred because of your procrastination. You’ll be much better off if you address it, and your future self will thank you. Adieu.