Essay Hell - How to Live Through It

If you are like most, you have not even started your essay, and you are already anxious. The process does not have to be as frightening or stressful as you are probably making it out to be. Yes, writing an essay is a big deal, and there is a lot of work involved, but these tips will help you avoid feeling like you are in essay hell.

  • Start Early - One of the biggest mistakes students make is waiting too long to begin. You start out thinking you have plenty of time, but then suddenly your paper is due in a few weeks, and you don't have time to get it properly done. You have officially entered essay hell. When you start early, you can take your time on the research and explore more sources. You are not rushed to create a final draft, and you can take a couple days between each edit. It won't feel like such a huge project, if you work on it a little bit at a time.
  • Create a Timeline - It is not a bad idea to create a timeline of where you hope to be on your paper at specific points along the timeline. This will help keep you on track. If you struggle with time management, you can take this a step further and create a detailed schedule.
  • Think it Through - Diving into your essay with little or no planning may have you scattered in a few very broad directions. Create an outline to help you stay focused.
  • Quality Notes - Taking thorough, neat, organized notes is crucial. Keep in mind that you may be using the notes a month or more later, so you won't remember what something should actually say if you can't read it. It is helpful to get a five-subject notebook and designate each section to a specific area of your paper. This way, your notes are not jumping from one topic to the next over-and-over as you switch sources.
  • Citing Information - Make sure you get all the information you need to cite your sources as you go. Don't assume that you will remember or even be able to find the same source again later when it comes time to cite your work.
  • Choose the Right Topic - Put a little thought into your topic. This is a huge decision. You may be set on a subject, but with further review you realize it's not ideal for the paper you are writing. Be open to different ideas. This is another reason why starting early is a good idea; you have time to switch your topic, if you absolutely need to.