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All work and no play: How to stay sane when writing a long essay

By Edited May 23, 2015 0 0

Writing a long essay can be a lengthy, isolating and draining process. Even if you have an interest in and a good general knowledge of your subject, organising your thoughts into coherent arguments is a challenge. Inside your head it all makes perfect sense, however once you begin to articulate the findings of your research for more public consumption, they can become elusive.

A further obstacle is the necessary inclusion of a relevant introduction and a succinct conclusion. These bring all your points together and answer the questions you asked in the body of the text. Unfortunately, the ability to write a long essay whilst remaining sane cannot be learnt overnight. However, with experience and a little guidance, it is an achievable goal for any writer.

Making a Start

For some writers, procrastination is enemy number one. This is the art of finding something, or anything else to do, in order to put off writing. Tidying a desk, housework, checking Facebook are all avoidance techniques designed to delay the inevitable. If you recognise yourself in this, consider setting a strict target. Start at a set time, write a certain amount of words and then reward yourself with a break.

Having all the information you require to hand is essential, make sure that before you put this plan into action, the research is done and you have read around your topic. This will enable you to form an opinion about the essay question and ensure the general thrust of your work forms a coherent path, from the introduction to the conclusion. If your thoughts are random and disorganised, your essay will reflect that.

Get something written down

The next step is to get something down on the page, the first line and paragraph are a great motivator, once written. They anchor your thoughts and even if you do not use any of this original material, the foundation is laid.

Don’t forget to unwind

The balance between work and social life is important. prioritize your time by spending ample hours writing when you need to, freeing up quality time for later. No one can write well, knowing all their friends are enjoying social time together, whilst they are stuck inside with 500 words to go.

In these circumstances stress can become an issue, work stacks up and even the most capable essay writer can begin to feel overwhelmed. You may begin to work late to catch up, drink too much coffee, lose sleep and have feelings of anxiety about finishing. 

Coping Strategies

Problems are best solved by sharing them with sympathetic listeners. Confide in friends who are going through the same experience and trade advice. If you are writing a similar assignment, it could be helpful to bounce ideas off each other thus stimulating the creative process.

Try a Power Nap

Finally, if you’re feeling utterly drained and out of ideas, try taking a nap. Twenty minutes of relaxation can clear your mind and have a recharging effect on the brain. You’ll feel far more alert and capable than if you’d sat worrying at your desk for those twenty minutes.

There is no easy quick-fix way of writing an essay, it is laborious and involves great investment of time and energy. Nevertheless, it is a skill that can be learned and improved upon. As with any task, writing becomes easier the more you do it. Take some time to re-read your own work with a critical eye to see how far you have come.

When you have discovered your own strengths and weaknesses, then you are in a position to focus on these and target your resources effectively.

Essay Stress(128547)
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