I am drowning in essays, every single word coming out of the pages of my novels and off of the multiple Microsoft Word documents I have open all at once. It…is…essay season! In all honesty, I don’t mind writing essays that much, and I prefer them over exams any day. Essays give me the opportunity to convey my thoughts and ideas regarding course material in an organized and concise way (and it also makes me feel like a true academic).
I have four essays coming up that are all due within the same week. This isn’t so surprising because, studying English and Book & Media Studies, I’ve been surrounded by literature, reading, and writing for my entire undergraduate career. However, I’ve never been in the situation where so many essays are due within the same week. The most funny thing through this situation was that each of my professors said, “I made the essay due at the end of the term, so that you’ll have more time to work on it and your other papers probably won’t be due then.” Wow, were they wrong, but this seriously makes me consider if there is a professor telepathy in which they all choose due dates the same way.
Juggling four essays seems like a daunting task, but it’s far away enough that I feel like I can pull it together. I can, I must, and I will. First off, I have to do what is my favourite thing to do ever: PLAN. I’m a notorious planner, organizer, and overall too sticky note friendly person. Seriously. Something that has been reiterated in course after course of mine is that planning is the key to a successful essay, and I can attest to the fact that this is true! By looking at the feedback that I’ve received from professors in past essays, it’s been really helpful in this process. In my time as a now upper year student, a lot of the essays I have to write now are research based rather than just analytical or close readings. So I propose that there are a few ways to get ahead in the essay preparation process.
Know what and how you’re going to research! In my case, I have a research essay that requires me to search through a department’s archives. This will require me to plan out some time to go into this office, search for what I need, and organize concise notes for my essay. Researching online works in a similar fashion. U of T Libraries is a fantastic resource for print, digital, and archival research. It has saved me many, many hours of confusion with its helpful search options based on what material you’re looking for. However, scouring through a hundred scholarly article results may take a while, so set aside time for that.
Create an outline (and you don’t have to stick to it)! Confession: I never used to do this until this year. Horrible. Terrible. I should’ve been doing this from the time I started essay writing. Essay outlines have let me organize my thoughts and ideas regarding a topic, and I often use it as a guideline when writing. However, as it usually happens when writing, ideas change or don’t flow, so sticking to an outline isn’t a requirement. It is a good stepping stone though for starting the essay process! One of my courses had an essay outline as a requirement and if you handed one in, you got a 2% bonus on your essay grade (yes). That really gave me the incentive to get started on my essay.
Know the timeline for your essays. As I have so many essays due within a short range of each other, keeping on top of them is a must. Currently, there are all in different stages: one I’ve written an outline for, one I’ve written a few paragraphs for, one I’ve brainstormed a bit for, and one I haven’t even thought about yet. With all of these moving parts going on at once, it can be easy to get confused in the process with different courses and essays. The Assignment Calculator is a great way to figure out how to structure the essay process by writing what type of assignment you’re doing, when you’re going to start, and when you have to finish. It will give you a timeline for what should be accomplished by what day and it’s given me a great structure!
We’re almost there everyone! Essay season may seem daunting, but taking proactive measures can help out. Don’t forget to take a break every once in a while and then bring yourself back to the writing.