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Oct 16 2016
by Catherine Cheng

The 8 Stages of Writing A Paper

By Catherine Cheng - Oct 16 2016

Paper writing is extremely common in college. Chances are you'll be assigned at least one for each of your classes. When you are, you'll be in for a lot of hilarity, stress and emotional rollercoasters regardless of whether or not you've written a research paper before. Here are eight stages of fun you might go through as you begin the long process towards completing your first research paper. 

1. Overconfidence

When you first get your paper, you might be slightly overconfident. This is going to be a breeze, you've written papers before and honestly, you think you're pretty darn good at whipping them out. You smile and stuff the thought in the back of your head, completely unaware that it might bite you later. 

2. Misjudgment of Time

With overconfidence comes believing one week is enough to research and write a 4000 word paper. You can churn out 100 words per minute. This will be simple. Procrastination kicks in and you can't motivate yourself to work on anything with three whole weeks still left on the calendar.

3. Shortcutting

Finally there is a fair dose of guilt in your system when you watch days pass one by one knowing you've done nothing on your paper. As a result, you make a few outlines, maybe jot down a couple of ideas for where you want to take your paper and pat yourself on the shoulder for a job well-done. With an outline in your back pocket, you feel much better about yourself. 

4. Book Drowning

You finally get the energy to walk into a library and now the whole numbering system just confuses you. You have no idea why your professor even wants you to use print sources when everything is online anyways. Regardless, you leave with way too many books in your arms and you are silently praying that the research paper will just magically write itself because there's no way you're going to finish reading everything in a week.

5. Caffeine Overdosing

You're ready to go. You've downed three Monsters and have a stock of Starbucks Doubleshots on hand. There is no way this ends badly. 

6. Introductions and Questionable Theses

Writing the first word is always the hardest. You try to follow the outline you jotted down in stage three but honestly it doesn't sound right. As a result, you're pulling at your hair and blaring Spotify in hopes of inspiration. Suddenly everything seems Greek and the list of requirements for the paper went from one page long to three pages long.

7. Final Periods

Relief sets in as you finally finish the last sentence of your beautiful paper. You are incredibly proud of yourself and do a happy dance. At least, you would do a happy dance if you weren't so tired and drained. Empty cans of energy drinks and caffeine shots litter your desk and you swear there are tear stains on your notes but at the end of the day, you did it, so who cares?

8. Sleep

Now that everything is done, you probably collapse in your bed, hoping to catch some sleep for just a few half hours before you have to wake up for your 8 a.m. class. You throw in some prayers before bed for good grades and no typos though. All in good faith.

Of course, this article is extremely exaggerated for comical effect. Do not be scared. Research papers are scary but they will not eat you alive. Do your work, balance study and play and take a deep breath. Writing research papers will never be a breeze, but it will get easier from here on out. 

Lead Image Credit: Tran Mau Tri Tam via Unsplash

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Catherine Cheng - The University of Texas at Austin

Catherine Cheng is a freshman at the University of Texas – Austin majoring in Business and hopefully picking up a certificate in Computer Science. She enjoys casually binge watching TV shows, drinking iced tea, and overusing Sriracha. In her free time, she can be found writing prose and musing about contemporary poetry books.

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