College of Staten Island
 The City University of New York

  Harry Thorne,
  WAC Coordinator
  Office: Building 2S Rm 227
  Email WAC

Writing Across the Curriculum/
Writing in the Disciplines
for Students

 Try to Write Consistently

Here’s an example of how working consistently can add up over the course of a week:

  Minutes spent writing
Monday 30
Tuesday 45
Wednesday 90
Thursday 30
Friday 60
Total 4 hours, 15 minutes

By writing consistently, little bits of time can add up to 4.25 writing hours in the course of one week! By fitting smaller segments of writing into your most productive times, you can get more done with less stress.

When you write all night to produce a paper before a deadline, I suspect that you get a skewed vision of how much time writing actually takes. Overnight writing requires trips to get coffee, texts whining about our predicament, and dealing with wandering attention due to lack of sleep. Writing like this isn’t very efficient, and it can produce some truly dreadful papers.

Abandoning last-minute writing takes a lot of bravery. When you write at the last moment, there’s a surge of adrenaline and fear that helps you to focus. But there’s another thing that can make writing at the last moment attractive: if you screw up, it doesn’t feel like it’s your fault. Simply turning in an essay is a victory for last-minute writers. If you don’t get the grade you hoped for and your professors aren’t wowed by your brilliance, you can chalk it up to writing at the last minute, not your own struggles with writing. The students who work steadily and put lots of effort into their writing do something incredibly brave: they produce their best work and don’t create excuses to hide behind.

It is tough to make the transition from last-minute writer to a few-minutes-at-a-time writer. The key, I think, is to accept that you’re going to feel vulnerable and unmotivated at first. If you’re usually a last-minute writer, you can create deadlines for yourself to help re-create the pressure-filled situation in which you once wrote. For example, you can tell yourself that you must write a reasonable page of your paper in the next hour. Over time, you may not need to do this bargaining and goal-setting quite so much.

The awesome news about this strategy is right in the chart above. You’ll notice that there are no Saturdays or Sundays on the chart. I’ve decided that I don’t like to work on weekends, so I’ve structured my work so that I put in quality time five days each week, then completely ignore my work on the weekends. It feels so luxurious, and I’m able to go to brunch and the movies on Saturday afternoon without feeling guilty at all about not doing work. You may prefer to structure your time so that you work on the weekends, but never after six in the evening on weekdays. The way you divide your work and play time is completely up to you, but keeping to a schedule can make you feel like you can really relax when you’re not working, which in turn will make you more productive when it is time to write.

Next: Use Rituals to Help You Start Work ->