How to Write a Paper Faster
Have you put off doing an essay, or just want to finish it quickly and get it out of the other way? Either way, if you’re motivated, you’ll be able to write one quickly. You’ll need to prepare, focus, and write efficiently, and then you’ll be able to move on!
Preparing to Write
Minimize distractions.Avoid anything that you know tends to distract you from work—social media, television, chatting or texting with friends, etc. To write an essay quickly, you’ll need to focus.
- Be persistent if people distract you from your writing. For instance, put a status up on social media that you’re going to be working for a while, but will catch up with people afterwards. If friends text or call, let them know the same thing.
Read your assignment instructions carefully.If you were given a prompt or guidelines for writing your essay, read them very carefully. You can make a good start on writing an essay quickly if you make sure that you understand what the assignment is asking you to do.This means making sure you understand any instructions you are given about length and format, but also about the kind of essay you are asked to write.For instance:
- A research paper will ask you to incorporate outside sources.
- A narrative essay will ask you to tell a story about something that happened.
- A literary analysis will ask you to quote and analyze a text.
Make an outline for your essay.Sure, you want to write an essay quickly, so it seems like writing an outline will just make the process take longer. However, having an outline helps you focus and write more quickly, by giving you a “map” to follow once you begin writing.This sense of direction will keep you from rambling in your essay.
- Choose whatever style of outline you prefer (bullet points, a diagram, brief sentences, etc.). At the very least, jot down the main points you think your essay will make.
Gather the sources you need to accomplish your essay.You’ll need the tools to actually write your essay (computer, paper and pen, etc.), but also any other sources required to write your essay. If you are writing a literary analysis, for instance, you’ll need a copy of the text you are writing about. If you’re writing a research paper, you’ll need the articles, books, or other sources that you will cite.
- You might also be able to find sources as you write, but make sure to keep a detailed list of them so that you can cite them correctly in your essay.
Drafting Your Essay
Write your introduction.Start at the beginning of your essay, with its introduction. Don’t agonize about how to begin, or about making an especially creative introduction. Just focus on writing one that is clear, and get it out of the way.
- Typically, an introduction can be just a few sentences long. Touch on the topic of your essay, and what you will be covering in it. Use your outline as a reminder of this, and as a guide to write something in your introduction like: “In this essay, I will describe X, then Y, and then Z.”
- The introduction can be the most important part of an essay, because it explains your idea and outlines your essay for your readers.Get something down in a first draft, and you can come back and tweak it if you have time after writing the rest of the essay.
- If you are really stuck on your introduction and don't know how to begin, you can start with the body of your essay instead, and come back and write the introduction later. Just make sure you have a clear idea of what to write your essay on, and that you leave enough time to write the introduction at the end.
Write the rest of your essay, referring to your outline as needed.Now that you have your introduction drafted, you’ll need to move on to the rest of your essay. Write quickly and stay focused. If you refer to your outline frequently as you write, you’ll remember the next part you need to work on. This will keep your essay from rambling, and shorten the amount of time it takes to write it.
Don’t get bogged down in minor details.Your writing will need to be clear and precise if it is to be successful, but you don’t have to agonize over every word choice. If you find yourself staring at a sentence, unable to find a word that sounds “right” or “better,” just pick something quickly and move on. You don’t want the writing to take too long, and if you have time at the end, you can go back and improve minor details like this.
- Focus on getting the main points down, simply and clearly. This will keep you motivating and moving.
Revising and Completing Your Work
Include any necessary citations.If you did not cite your sources (if you have any) in your essay as you wrote it, then after finishing a draft, go back through and include them. In addition, make a works cited page or bibliography if your assignment instructions ask you to.
- Cite your sources according to the style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) that your instructor wants you to use.
- Citing your sources is really important. If you don’t do it properly, it can be considered plagiarism. As a rule of thumb, if you got an idea or information from a source outside of your own head, you should cite it.
Review your introduction.If you have enough time, go back and reread your introduction. Make any improvements that you can. Since the introduction is such an important part of your essay—and the first thing your instructor will read—you’ll want to make a good impression.
- Make sure that your introduction reflects your essay’s content, is clear, and avoids sweeping generalizations like “Since the dawn of mankind people have….”
Make any desired revisions to your essay.While still writing quickly, you can review your first draft and make any revisions to it that you think will make your writing better.An effective and fast way to do this is to make a reverse outline..
- To make a reverse outline, write down the main ideas of your essay as they are presented paragraph by paragraph. The result will look much like an outline you would create before writing an essay, but you can use it to double-check your finished product.
- A reverse outline helps to spot things like paragraphs that can be moved to make the flow of your ideas clearer, and places where you might need to cite sources. These are revisions you can take care of quickly, and improve your essay.
Format your essay properly.If you weren’t sticking to formatting requirements as you were writing, go back and check your instructions for directions regarding these. Make any changes you need to in your essay, keeping an eye out for things you might be asked to format, like:
- Line spacing (single, double, etc.)
- Font and font size
- Margin size
- Name, date, and essay title
Proofread your essay thoroughly.After you’ve made any formatting and/or organizational changes to your essay, do a quick review of your essay to correct spelling and grammatical errors, and any other minor issues.If you are proofreading from a hard copy of your essay, use a pen or pencil to make notes on the paper of the changes you need to make. Correct the mistakes immediately and congratulate yourself on a speedy essay.
- Don’t rely solely on electronic spelling and grammar checkers if you can. They’re better than nothing, but they’re far from perfect. If you can spare a few minutes to do a proofread, it can pay off.
- A quick and thorough way to proofread is to read your work aloud. This tends to be the fastest way to catch any mistakes.
- If you can ask a friend to proofread your paper, that can be even more effective, because he or she will have fresh eyes and can catch mistakes you might overlook.
- These steps for writing an essay quickly can be helpful whether you are writing an assignment on your own time, in-class, or as part of an exam.
- Don’t be tempted to plagiarize, even if you are trying to write an essay quickly. If you plagiarize and are caught, the consequences can be severe. You can write a decent essay in a short amount of time all on your own, if you focus.
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