Do you put off writing papers, dreading the hours it will take to get them done?
Many students find that writing is a tedious process.
It’s not surprising to see why.
You have to brainstorm ideas and research information thoroughly. Then you have to put together your draft, including citations. Finally, you have to edit your essay to make sure it all makes sense and is grammatically correct.
It’s a lot of work, so I’m going to show you some ways to speed things up.
The trick to writing fast isn’t to cut back on research or to speed through the editing process. If you do that, it will result in a poor-quality paper.
Instead, by applying the strategies in this article, you’ll be able to research information faster and write a quality paper in less time.
Here are 11 tips on how to write a paper or essay faster and still get a good grade!
(If you want to improve your concentration and reduce procrastination, download the free quick action guide below.)
1. Make sure you understand the assignment
The biggest mistake a student can make is to write an essay that doesn’t meet the requirements of the assignment.
No matter how well-written your paper is, you’ll receive a bad grade if your work is off-topic.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to ensure your paper is on the right track:
- Do I understand the topic well?
- What are the specific questions I need to answer?
- Do I know where to find the relevant information?
- What’s the required format for the final draft?
- How long should the paper be?
As you write each section of your paper, always refer back to the requirements to ensure you stay on track.
And if you don’t understand the requirements well, don’t hesitate to clarify your doubts with your teacher.
2. Plan your schedule
Researchers have studied the benefits of various time management techniques. The findings show that using such techniques can help to improve academic performance and reduce stress.
So how can you improve your time management?
Start by noting down all your assignments, and prioritize them based on urgency. It’s best to start with tasks that take more time and have a closer deadline.
If the project is complex, break it down into smaller tasks. Then, estimate the time needed and designate a slot for each subtask in your schedule.
Take your other commitments into account so they don’t conflict with your work sessions or affect your school-life balance.
Having a set schedule reduces the time spent thinking about when you should get to work and what tasks you should work on. It also helps to minimize stress and ensures you have enough time to produce quality work.
3. Explain the topic to your friends or family members
Before doing research for the paper, try to gain a basic understanding of the topic.
Go through the materials and guidelines that your teacher has provided. You can also make brief notes on the concepts and information you learn.
Then, try to explain the topic to a friend or family member.
You’d then test your understanding by explaining it to someone else like you would to a child.
It’s crucial to take note of any concepts or ideas you couldn’t explain well or questions you weren’t able to answer. This can help to highlight any gaps in your understanding, which you’ll fill in later during the research stage.
4. Conduct preliminary research (but don’t go overboard)
Now that you have a basic understanding of the topic, you can start delving deeper.
Your preexisting knowledge should help you gauge how accurate an article or source is. You can also use the knowledge gaps you identified earlier to direct your research.
While doing the research, you can also make short notes or mini mindmaps to connect new information with what you already know.
Many students spend too much time in the research phase. Don’t worry about finding out everything about your topic at the start. You can always do more research when you actually start writing the paper later on.
5. Find credible sources to cite
Make full use of your research sessions by noting credible sources to include in your paper.
Start a document to keep track of your sources, so you can refer back to them and cite them correctly.
Many papers require you to cite credible sites, research studies, or published journal articles. If so, check the guidelines for the number and type of sources you should include.
6. Create an outline
Creating an outline allows you to organize your ideas, research, and insights into a structured roadmap to follow.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
- Organize your ideas and research findings into separate themes or categories.
- Arrange these content clusters logically.
- Are there any strong points that should appear first?
- Do certain ideas need to be explained first to set up the discussion of other ideas?
- Keep your notes brief to save time.
- Note which sources and citations can be used under each point.
- Estimate the word count for each section.
- Regularly refer to the given questions and guidelines to stay on track.
7. Use a good template
To save time, you can use a template as a backbone for the paper.
Start by doing a quick search online. You’ll find many free essay and paper outline templates for different writing styles.
Choose a suitable template that’s closest to the required format, word count, and writing style.
8. Write freely and edit later
When you write your draft, focus on progress, not perfection.
Create your draft based on the outline you drew up earlier. At this point, don’t worry about re-reading your sentences to catch grammatical mistakes and typos – you can do this later during the editing phase.
Edit your draft as a whole after you’ve completed it.
9. Write your paper bit by bit
Try to spread out your research, outlining, and writing tasks over a period of time – at least a few days to a couple of weeks or longer. You shouldn’t attempt to complete all the stages in one go.
If you’re in a time crunch, you can take ten-minute breaks between your writing sessions.
Research has shown that even short breaks can help to combat tiredness, boost your energy levels, and improve overall performance.
10. Avoid procrastination
Your teacher will often give you a week or two or longer to write a paper. What often happens is that students put off getting started until the last minute. This leads to stress and affects the quality of the paper.
Instead, spread out your writing sessions. Break the project down into smaller sections. Then, dedicate a 20- to 40-minute slot each day to work on the paper.
By making this part of your daily routine, you’ll gradually complete the paper without becoming overwhelmed by the task.
11. Use writing tools and technologies
There are many digital programs and tools available that will make the writing process more efficient.
You might find the following tools useful:
- Grammarly: Run your paper through this program to catch typos and grammatical errors. It also comes with a built-in plagiarism checker.
- Hemingway: This writing tool guides you to write clear and concise sentences.
- BibMe: This is a citation and bibliography maker that will help you create citations based on the sources you provide. It can also organize and store all your citations.
- ChatGPT: It’s best to first check if your teacher permits its use. And, of course, you should never use it to write your paper! But you can use ChatGPT to brainstorm ideas and provide feedback on your paper.
Writing papers doesn’t have to be exhausting or tedious.
Set up a workflow that enables you to carry out all your tasks in an organized and efficient way. It’s also a good idea to do your work in a quiet and conducive environment so you don’t get distracted.
As with many things in life, practice makes perfect. As you write more papers using this structured process, you’ll become a faster and better writer!
(Don’t forget to download your free quick action guide below.)