Writing the First Paper: How to Write Your First Paper of the Semester

As the blissful days of summer continue farther and farther into the past, students are confronted with the looming omnipotence of the first academic paper of the semester. Though it has been a few months since in text citations, theses, and MLA format have been a priority, here are some tips and tricks to finally putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.

  1. Plan Ahead

Every professor will tell you this and every college student will ignore this advice. Planning ahead does not mean making an outline or starting your paper a week early. For many of us, it simply means knowing that the paper exists. Maybe planning ahead means procrastinating working on your paper by getting ahead on your Byzantium reading, so that way the weekend before the paper is due you can have midnight writing sessions in Tisch. It’s a flexible term.

  1. Wikipedia

Don’t actually source Wikipedia, but definitely use it as a base. If you dig around Wikipedia articles, there is a large reference section that is generally ignored. This is a huge database of some hopefully less questionable sources. Just keep scrolling on down for your treasure chest of knowledge.

  1. Move Locations

Though Club Tisch is consistently the best party on campus, there are a plethora of great places to get cozy and get writing. If you don’t want to stray too far from the comforts of the library, the Tower Café offers a scenic view of campus, as well as a few steps away from constant caffeine. The Rez and Brown and Brew are also excellent options in regards to coffee fanatics. If you like a quieter option, the upstairs of the Campus Center is another hidden gem. And, while the weather is still nice, get out on the Presidential Lawn and let nature guide you to writing success.

  1. Procrastinate (But Not Too Much)

Procrastination can sometimes be a student’s best friend. Though writing under pressure is never a joy ride, it certainly increased motivation. Plus there are multiple studies that suggest your creative peak is in the middle of the night, with the lack of distraction. This is not an excuse to procrastinate, but rather a reassurance that it’s going to be okay.

  1. Proofread

At least a little bit. If you are one of those types of students who will wait until midnight the night before the paper is due, make sure you catch your dreary grammar mistakes before turning the paper in. Even if you write your paper a week in advance, always proofread. For some of us, that means skimming. For others, it means grabbing that multicolored pen and creating artwork on your draft. At the very least, attempt to create a grammatically and spell-checked façade of a several draft paper. Your TA will appreciate it.

Of course, many other people have advice to offer. Ask your friends how they write their papers, even journey up to the ARC writing center. The resources at Tufts are plentiful.

Don’t worry, you’ll reach the conclusion soon enough.


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