Ah, research papers.
We’ve all written plenty of those. Or maybe you haven’t, and have grown up studying in an education system that didn’t have CCE or FA1 or SA2 or some other combination of letters and numbers. Not to fret. University will rectify that for you, to the point where you will write 1500 words in a three-hour caffeine-induced haze of enlightenment and self-loathing.
Don’t worry about whether you can or not.
But what nobody ever tells you is how to prepare to write a research paper, because if you thought the process begins only when you sit down to write, oh no. You’re very misguided. It starts several weeks earlier, when your Professor tells you that you have an Assignment to submit three weeks from now and you think, “Three weeks? Watch me ace this”. And then you start writing only the night before. Or, sometimes, the morning of the submission date.
This is the Game of Postpone(ing). May the odds ever be in your favour.
#1 Stretch. You need to get in shape for all the work you’re about to (not) do. Crack your knuckles, get your game face on, and you’ll know you’re ready when you can hear battle music playing in the background.
Yeah, you know the one I mean.
#2 Did you think the next step was settling on something to write about?
The next step is to procrastinate.
Take a walk. Bake a cake. Make some Maggi. Write an article about making Maggi. Play Halo. Kill a man. Kill two men. Go on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Live in Mexico as a bullfighter for a while. You can do anything. I believe in you.
#2 Once you’ve successfully pushed the limits of human civilization with respect to wasting time, realize that you have 12 hours left to write your paper.
#3 Have a stare-off with your computer screen. (Caution: Don’t go blind).
#5 Wait some more…
#6 What is that burning sensation at the pits of your stomach, you ask? No, it’s not the mess’s Shamber (Sambhar) Rice. It’s panic.
#7 Now, PANIC.
Throw pencils into your laundry bag. Throw your socks into your pencil case. Pull your hair out, strand by strand. Convert to The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Move to Botswana and live as a lone goatherd. The sky is your limit. Only metaphorically, however. If you want to switch courses and do astrophysics, you still probably could.
#8 Once you’ve reacted drastically enough to your own laziness, sit down with a cup of coffee. Did I say cup? Sorry, I meant barrel. Make that two barrels, just in case.
#9 And now, write.