Is your paper due soon, and yet you find yourself doing everything and anything in the world except writing it?
You clean your place, you check your phone, then you clean your desk, then you cook. Anything to avoid writing that essay.
In this article, I’ll reveal to you the real reason you’re procrastinating and what to do to finally write that paper and be done with it.
Let’s get right to it.
The REAL Reason You’re Procrastinating
Procrastination on a writing project makes you feel bad about it. You feel like a lazy person.
But the reality is deeper than that. So, what is the real reason you’re procrastinating?
Okay, drum roll…
The real problem is that writing an essay or a research paper is hard if you don’t know how. And you don’t know how.
How do I know that? Well, I’ve taught essay writing to hundreds of people, mostly on the university level.
And I know that by the time you get into college, you still have no idea how to write an essay.
And your age doesn’t matter, either. Most of my readers are adult learners who think they can’t write because they forgot how to do it.
No, you didn’t forget how to do it. You never learned it in the first place.
They don’t teach essay writing in school. They just don’t.
Why Is Essay Writing So Hard?
First, writing an essay is essentially a sequence of decisions. And we humans are terrible at making decisions. We would rather do anything else than make decisions.
What am I talking about here? What kinds of decisions do you have to make as a writer of an essay?
You must decide…
- What your main point will be
- How you will support that point
- What kind of evidence you will present
These three decisions alone will keep you from getting started until the last minute.
And second, writing an essay involves organizing your thoughts. And that is also an activity that the human brain doesn’t like very much. Being scattered is a normal state.
What Can You Do to Stop Procrastinating and Write that Essay Now?
As I said earlier, your brain doesn’t want to make decisions and organize its thoughts.
So, what we’re going to do is make these two tasks really easy. How can we accomplish that?
Well, I’ll give you simple, step-by-step instructions based on a real-life example.
How to Overcome Essay Writing Procrastination
Let’s pretend that this is our assignment:
“Your essay should answer the question, ‘Is accurate record keeping important in patient care?’ Support your arguments using your class notes and any research you may find helpful.”
This example is from a real class in a nursing school program. Let’s do it.
Step 1. Decide on your main point quickly
Do it without overthinking or doing a lot of research. Just decide.
In this case, the decision is really easy. Is accurate record keeping important in patient care?
I’m not a medical professional, but I’d bet at least ten bucks that yes, it is important. And I don’t have to consult my notes or do any research. I just decide based on what I know is probably true.
And once I’ve made this decision, I’ll write down my main point:
“Accurate record keeping is important in patient care.”
See, this is the most important decision in writing an essay. Because it determines what statement you will be supporting in the entire paper. Just do it quickly.
Step 2. Organize your content quickly
Again, don’t spend much time on this. Just decide on your supporting points. And use the Power of Three.
What is the Power of Three? It is just the idea that you simply decide that your essay will have three supporting points for your main point.
You don’t have to consult your research. You don’t have to overthink it. Just like you quickly decided on your main point, decide that you’ll use three ideas to support it.
Don’t worry that you don’t know what the ideas are. Once your brain knows what to look for, it will find three ideas easily.
Again, the real problem is not the writing itself. It is the decision-making. If you make it easy for your brain by just picking an answer and going with it, you’ll overcome essay procrastination.
Let’s Use the Power of Three in Our Example
Here is our main point again:
“Accurate record keeping is important in patient care.”
By using the Power of Three, we know that we are looking for three reasons why this is true. And we also have this nice little placeholder in our brain:
Our brain now looks for information to fill in these blank spaces. And it will find it.
Step 3. Come Up with Three Supporting Ideas Quickly
Because your brain knows that you’re looking for three ideas specifically, it can find them quickly and easily.
Without even being a nursing student, I can say that I can probably do it. And I don’t even need any research here.
I will need my research later. But at this point, I don’t have to deal with it.
All I need is use my imagination and just think up three reasons why it makes sense to keep accurate records with a patient.
And here are my supporting ideas (and my whole essay structure)…
By the time you’re done with this step, your essay procrastination is gone. Why? Because you’ve just completed the hardest part of writing any essay.
This structure contains:
- Your main point
- Your supporting ideas
- A clear picture of what the finished essay will look like
Not knowing these steps and not having this resulting structure are exactly why you were procrastinating.
Just complete these steps quickly the way I just taught you, and your essay procrastination will be gone.
The only thing left to do is the final step.
Step 4. Follow the Structure and Write the Essay
The rest is really easy because now your brain knows exactly what to do.
And now you can use your class notes and research to support your points because you already know what goes where.
You are no longer staring at the blank screen. You have your essay content outline right in front of you, and you came up with it quickly.
By the way, here is this lesson on video, if you are a visual learner:
Where Do You Go From Here…
Your next step in writing an essay would be to write a complete thesis statement. Here’s an article where I teach you how to do that step-by-step:
Hope this was helpful!