Don’t Let Your Writing Project Get Derailed
By Connie B. Dowell
It’s so easy, isn’t it? You start a writing project, perhaps a novel or a term paper or even a big report for work, and you’ve got tons of time to complete it. In fact, you’ve got so much time that you’re bound to produce the best novel/term paper/report your audience has ever seen. Yet somehow you find yourself just a short time before your deadline and scrambling to complete the first draft, let alone revision. As a writing center professional, I encounter many students who want to know how to revise with only a short time before their papers are due. We end up having to prioritize based on what the student can realistically do before the time is up. A lot of things get left out. Fortunately, it’s super easy to avoid a last minute rush with your projects. Just a few simple tricks will keep you on track.
Plan, Plan, Plan.
A key part of staying on track is, dun-dun-dun... time management. A scary word, I know. The truth is, though, that time management doesn't have to mean holding a whip to yourself to produce every single second. Instead, it's all about knowing your work habits and scheduling time to work. The crucial piece is knowing when you have time during your
Bonus planning tip: Always budget more time than you think you need for each step of the process. Things come up. The work may be more complicated than you realize. Your car may break down, losing you an entire day. You may (gasp) procrastinate just a little, despite your best efforts to stay on the straight and narrow. If you budget extra time, none of these obstacles are a big deal.
Creating a system of rewards really does work. Come up with something small you enjoy. Maybe you will read a chapter of an exciting book after completing a section. Small incremental rewards will keep you going, and not just for the pleasure you get from the reward itself. You're playing Pavlov's dog here. Eventually, you'll start associating the fun of the reward with the action of completing a small piece of your project. Then you'll get the reward and the high of completing a goal.
Play Make Believe.
Imagine you’re back in kindergarten for a bit and get out of your seat. Your writing room isn't just a room any more. Nope. It's the scene of your story or perhaps a rapt audience for your animated talk on an important topic. Use the objects around you to illustrate concepts or have them stand in for people. Act out the events you discuss or the actions of your characters. Getting out from behind the computer and moving around will help refresh your mind and willpower as well as helping you think about your project in new ways.
Go out and Write!
If you’ve got a big project due or just big goals, you really can meet the deadline with time to spare. With a little forethought and some mid-project tactics, your writing can be fun, innovative, and, of course, on time.
About the Author:
Connie B. Dowell is a writing center coordinator and freelance editor. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia and a Masters of Library and Information Science from Valdosta State University. She lives in Virginia with her husband, where they both consume far more coffee than is probably wise
Twitter at @ConnieBDowell
About the Book:
How would you like to
· perform with the passion of an Oscar winning actor,
· compete with the drive and fervor of an Olympic athlete, or
· teach like you’ve got a Nobel Prize slung around your neck
all while doing your homework?
Believe it or not, you can do all of this and much more in the course of writing your college papers. This book takes you through the overlapping stages of the writing process, using game mechanics, cooperation, and learning styles to help you have as much fun as possible and take charge of your own education. With exercises and activities for groups and individuals, this text focuses on the meat of writing, the big picture elements that matter most in both college papers and real world writing situations, all with an eye toward enjoyment.
Sit down, crack open this guide, and give your favorite notebook a big hug. You may not have a choice about writing your papers, but who says you can’t love them?