How To Write An Essay The Night Before It's Due

How To Write An Essay The Night Before It's Due

A Story by freelancejouster

Sitting around the dinner table after another somewhat questionable Sunday supper, your mother brings up the subject of school.  “Oh, Friday was a wonderful day,” you answer sarcastically.  “The snake escaped in Chemistry and somehow ended up stashed with our lab’s equipment; in Information Processing, every time I was about to save, our row of computers turned off; at lunch, I tripped and covered myself--and several others--in ketchup and other condiments that did no wonders for my, well, once white shirt; in College Prep, we’ve been ordered to write some big long essay thing but I already had all the information rounded up so I kind of blocked her out; and then the usual happened in choir, et cetera.”
            “That’s nice,” your mother says distractedly, scooping up the dirty plates from the table and transferring them to the dishwasher, “Have you done all your homework?”
            You start to answer “yes,” but then, suddenly, it dawns on you.  The essay.  You have all the information but you never started writing.  With a quick glance at the microwave clock, you assess the situation and break into a cold sweat.  It is precisely eight o’clock now, if you start writing immediately, you will finish around... crap.  To your mother, you say “Oh, yeah, of course, I just need to put a few finishing touches on...” and by then, you have bolted from the room.
            No worries, if this situation has ever befallen you--as it has to so many others--fear not, for there are simple steps designed specifically for this situation.  Upon completing, you will have finished on time.

First, gather some supplies.  You will need basic essay-writing supplies such as a stack of 4 x 6 index cards; a variety of colored pens, preferred are green and purple though anything not black will work; notes and/or thorough information on the topic you will be writing about, all research should be done beforehand; a clock or other time-telling device; access to a washing machine/dryer (though this step can be skipped if completely improbable); Microsoft Word or a similar word processing program; a computer with internet access; and facebook or other social networking account.  In addition, you will need to have an acute attention to detail--as following the directions correctly and precisely is extremely important, a quiet or peaceful atmosphere to concentrate, consider the conditions you work best in, including factors such as mood music or any scent or lighting that aides in concentration, as well as comfortable clothing, clothes washing, the ability to procrastinate (which, is assumed, as you are already in this position to begin with), and a stead-fast commitment to following these directions.

And last, but not least needed, are assorted snacks--I recommend Capri Sun, Twizzlers, and a bag of cookies.  Studies show that food, in general, aides concentration, but certain foods can do wonders.  For instance, the difference between Capri Sun and a generic juice box is the difference between Godly nectar and, well, a generic juice box.

Once you have gathered your supplies, retreat to an area with the computer or move your computer to a secluded area, create the atmosphere needed (see previous directions), and begin this set of life-altering directions.

Step one, which may seem counterproductive, is to clean your room.  How can you possibly work if your room is messy?  It is imperative that you concentrate only on the essay, which needs to be completed by tomorrow morning, and so, of course your room needs to be clean.  If it is exceptionally messy, start from one corner of the room and work your way across the room against the wall into the next corner, slightly forward and then back across the room the way you came from.  Clean as if you were eating an ear of corn.  Feel free to dance like Lady Gaga to any song that strikes your fancy, as well as try on anything discovered within the mess that you thought was long lost, read anything that you do not remember writing, or play with anything you do not remember having.  Be sure to throw all garbage away, put all dishes away and, stack all papers you find.  Then, bring all dirty clothes to the laundry room for the next step.

Now, this step is somewhat controversial: cleaning your own clothing.  Laundry is a whole other skill that takes practice to master, and if you have not honed this yet, feel free to proceed with the process without participating in this step.  Just be tormented by the thought of your clothes continuing to be dirty.

There are a couple ways to go about this step.  The first, is to simply wash all the clothing that you found dirty on the floor of your room in one load with extra fabric softener, because, let’s be honest, it has been there awhile.  Another would be the “correct” way to do laundry.  In this version one would separate the piles of clothing into white, darks, and colors and wash each category individually so as to keep clothing colors their most vivid.  This way is more thorough and will give you the satisfaction of feeling like you have accomplished something, though it comes with a niggling fear that you should really be doing something else.  When that feeling becomes too strong, drop the laundry mid-load and retreat back to the study area and the items you collected before, like a scavenger.

Upon returning, open your word processor on the computer, because you should have finally found the motivation to go start the work needed.  Then, proceed to stare at the document for several minutes, before realizing that you have no idea what to write about, though you know the information, or at least, have the information.  Extract said information on the topic, your colored pens, and the 4 x 6 notecards.  Transfer the information from the notes you have taken or articles you have printed to the notecards.  Keep the information to a sentence or two, but enough so it is useful for you to use.  Continue transferring until you run out of information or think of an incredible idea for the introduction.

Creative ideas for introductions arrive at the oddest times, and dissolve the longer you wait to document them.  Ideas are fleeting.  They need to be captured and written down as soon as thought of it before they escapes.  Any wait-length longer than an hour and what you thought was clever will turn into something... questionable.  Often, it is helpful to write down all introduction ideas as they arrive, and elaborate on the ideas that seem to come gather easily.  If the idea seems forced, especially in an introduction, which is supposed to cleverly grasp the reader’s attention, the best solution is to just abandon it.  If more than one introduction seems feasible, follow through with both and pick your favorite.  And then change your mind.  And then change back.

All the self-doubt that choosing an introduction creates is too much to write well or quickly anymore.  A perfect method of distraction--and reaffirmation of self-worth--is to look at cats on the internet.  Pull up your favorite browser (and if it is internet explorer, you need to find a new preference), and Google “funny pictures of cats.”  If that does not get your brain flowing and non-stressed again, nothing will.  When you find a particularly stimulating--or hilarious--picture, feel free to post to your favorite social networking website.  Actually, it’s encouraged.  The sharing of ideas is a wonderful movement as well as the sharing of information, or in this case... cats.  Eventually, when the fear that you are wasting precious time returns, return to the word document.  Resume staring.

If an idea of how to start the progression of information comes to you, by all means, start progressing.  But, if you are unable to get the information down in a coherent order, take your notecards back out.  Spread them out in front of you and sift through to find some sort of progression or order to the information.  Feel free to play around with ordering and grouping as becoming familiar with the facts and quotes you are to be working with will make ideas surface and gather in your mind.  When an order seems logical, start writing that first paragraph.  Even if what you are writing sounds lame or stupid to you, the important thing is to just get your words out on paper.  Remember, going back and changing what you have written is always a possibility.

Upon completing the first paragraph, you will feel like you have actually accomplished something.  You will quickly glance at the clock and then end up staring at it, slowly calculating how much sleep you would get if you went to bed right this second.  And right this second.

As you have made progress, the time has come to reward yourself with a break.  As previously discussed, facebook and other social networking sites are a great way to waste time.  One of the easiest ways to waste time within said site is to “stalk” people or look at everything they have posted in the last few days, weeks, or months, depending on how often that person posts.  This may include links, photographs, notes, and statuses; all are important as you dissect every aspect of that person’s life.  Feel free to comment on one or two things from recent days, but more than about four days back, and they will know what you have done, which is unacceptable.  The motivation behind stalking people on facebook is to learn minute details about them without getting caught.  If you have completed this task correctly, you should feel like a secret agent.

After a few dozen minutes, you will realize that if the social networking site is open, you will get nothing done and you need to go back to writing that essay.  Plug in quotes and information that sound accurate (even when that is far from the case) and make your essay sound as much like you as possible.  Remember to toss in aspects that compare what you are saying to life on earth or the “big picture” or “all humanity” for bonus point.  Continue to do this for a few paragraphs or pages, depending on how long the essay is supposed to be.  When you feel like you cannot write anymore without getting a massive headache, the time for reinforcements has arrived.

That’s right folks, it is snack time; you found those delicious morsels for a reason.  It is now time to sprawl out across the floor, blast whatever music you have for “mood music”--or better yet, if you did not choose your favorite song to go along with your mood music, blast that now--and eat whatever remains of your food.  Enjoy this down time because you will need the energy it provides to concentrate on the last legs of your essay.  When the mood strikes you, you will dance.  Leap around your room as if the floor is lava, do a conga that the Dancing with the Stars contestants will envy, or just shake your milkshake.  You need to do this partially because it will feel magnificent and freeing and partially because you feel guilty for eating all of that food.

When the song ends, look at the clock to assess, once again, the amount of sleep you would get if you went to bed right this second.  Or right this second.  A warning here, if you dwell too much on the time, fatigue will set in and you will be unable to continue on with your essay writing if you focus on how heavy your arms feel, how much your head hurts, or how your eyes are starting to itch like never before.

To shift your focus from this, move on to the next task:  concluding.  A conclusion should be like the introduction’s baby.  An attention-keeping paragraph that ties everything together, either neatly or otherwise, then pats the reader on the head and sends him on his merry way.  Strive to make the conclusion tie into the introduction, if even with just the tone or feeling that it leaves the reader with.  As you did before--while writing the introduction--feel free to try several different methods or versions of it before deciding on which you think would best work.  And then change your mind.  And then change back.

A conclusion is an achievement; upon concluding your conclusion, back to the internet you go.  In fact, back to a previous step.  That’s right, we are looking at cats yet again.  Only this time, due to the late hour of the night (or early hour of the morning, depending on how you see things and how slowly you have completed these steps) they will seem even more hilarious.  Cats that you merely snickered at, or even half-smiled at before, will send you to the ground, doubled-over from laughter.  Only with the inspiration from the fluffy animals hilarity still resonating within you like a bass drum, will you have the motivation for the next step.

It is time to change the world.  It is time to put your opinions on meaningless information out into cyber space for strangers and family members alike to critique and judge.  The time has come to start a blog.

There are a variety of different websites that you can use for this task, all of them specialized to make a blogging experience special to you.  Start a “blogspot” website if the kind of blog you are looking for is anywhere between a journal or daily entry.  Start a “tumblr” if you like pictures or just browsing through various other peoples’ thoughts.  Either version wastes time, and there are a variety of other websites that provide a range of blogging experiences somewhere between the two.  Start either with an introductory page, otherwise called an “about me” or by posting, without any introduction or opening pretense, a small life story or even just a review of what you did within the last twenty-four hours.  While doing this, fatigue is going to start setting in.  Be prepared when this happens.  Every part of you will feel leaden, and then it is up to you to do the honorable thing, and blog about that.

By this point of the night, coherent thought is a thing of dreams, which are calling you more loudly than any other thing has in your recent memories.  Throw the rest of the essay together by inserting a series of semi-logical transitions and the rest of your information, shut down the computer, and call it a night.  In the morning, your essay will be finished, you will get some sleep, and you will realize that you did not waste the whole night, really.  You will have learned some new information, laughed a few times, and kept yourself entertained throughout the process.  Print it out, and bring it in to your teacher who will ask you if you slaved away on this for hours last night.  The only answer you will be able to give will be to yawn massively, rub your eyes, shrug, and reply, “It wasn’t slaving.”

This set of steps will have helped you complete your essay the night before it is due with minimal pain and suffering.  Grogginess and headaches are of consequence, but most live through these and onto the next last-minute deadline.

© 2012 freelancejouster

Author's Note

more college prep work, be proud.

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Added on October 17, 2011
Last Updated on February 8, 2012
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