The Procrastinator’s Guide to the Galaxy -->

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The Procrastinator’s Guide to the Galaxy

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In academic life, we find ourselves writing on a strict deadline for a myriad of reasons: a last-minute assignment, hectic schedule, or (in my case) a love of procrastination. Whatever puts your finger to keyboard in a manic fashion, writing with minimal time requires an entirely different approach. Over years of term papers, applications, and a thesis, I have honed this art of writing on a deadline. Here are some tips for cranking out an A+ writing assignment last minute.

Claim your writing space. 

Having a space that works for your productivity is key. Some prefer the clamor of coffee mugs at Starbucks, others the solitude of their basement. Stake out your claim and plug in your laptop. Also inform your roommate/partner/child of your impending writing blitz.

Acquire appropriate snacks

As much as stress conjures an insatiable craving for Taco Bell, heavy fast food isn’t the answer. Studies have shown blueberries, dark chocolate, avocados, eggs, and whole grains make the best brain food.

Assess the situation and set goals.

Figure out exactly what you need to write, how long you have to write it, and how much sleep you need to function. Sometimes, it helps to write an “I’ll do this before 11 p.m., this before 12 a.m., etc.” list to keep yourself organized into the wee hours of insanity and caffeine crashes.


Nothing helps a frenzied mind more than structure and direction. Outline everything while your brain is fresh.

Focus on structure. 

If you need to prioritize, keep your writing organized and your language simple. An organized paragraph goes farther than flowery language.

Take mini breaks. 

A 5-10-minute chat with a friend, brief snack session, or blog check can only help to refresh your brain. Just make sure the mini break doesn’t turn into an hour-long Facebook detour and marathon of Law and Order: SVU.


When you’re finished, resist the temptation to Blackboard and crash. Read over the assignment at least once before submission. Early risers may choose to sleep and then proofread as soon as they get up. I would not know.

Reward yourself. 

Writing on a deadline is far more stressful than writing normally, so you should reward yourself for surviving the endeavor. In my experience, a meal out or a massage does the trick. And possibly plan your time better for the next assignment—unless, of course, you enjoy the adrenaline rush.

Julia Cox-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In her role as a writing instructor, Julia Cox enjoys helping students "discover their own writing process and how to make writing meaningful, rather than just another chore." She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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