Friday, 2 May 2014

Essay Survival Advice

Now I'm going to preface this by saying that, in all honesty, listening to my advice on essay writing is kind of like asking a walrus's advice for baking.

Essays and I do not get on, and this guidance really isn't focused on the academic side as I just don't have any kind of strategy when writing essays, but as for the keeping-going-and-doing-it I have learnt some things (I just suck at putting my own advice into practice).

That said, I have written a bloody load of essays so here is what I have learnt:

  1. If you, like me, can't get off Facebook/Youtube/Tumblr/Instagram - I swear I'm obsessed with a different site every time - get ye some Self Control. Nope, not the mental kind, I'm talking about the Mac application that has changed my life. You have the option to write either a blacklist of all the sites you don't want to waste time on, or a whitelist of the only sites you want to use, and I use the blacklist to make sure I can still access all the online articles I need. Genius.
  2. Find your bubble. By bubble I mean that world-excluding environment that means you are as focused and distraction free as possible. Personally mine involves being sat in the kitchen as for some reason kitchens really motivate me more than my bedroom - lying in my bed is just too tempting - and putting on my headphones and listening to either a song or a playlist over and over again at deafening volume. Not for everyone I know but this is my bubble and it keeps me awake, focused and on my game. Experiment a little - if your home is too distracting, a library may work better (I am not a library worker at all but I know plenty of people who are).
  3. HYDRATE YOURSELF. I read somewhere that doing an exam is as physically demanding as going for a run and if this the case, essay writing for me is as draining as a two or three day long exam. This means your bod needs water, water, water. Obvious but easily forgotten when you're feeling sluggish mid afternoon.
  4. If you're taking a break, don't take a break with a screen. It can take 15 minutes for your brain to return to work mode after even the briefest browse of your Facebook, and unless you're from the 1890's and your essays are for some reason needed to be handwritten, chances are you've been sat in front of a screen for at least an hour and your eyes and brain will be in need of a break. Make a snack, have a chat, go for a run or a walk, just don't chill on your phone's Instagram or watch an episode of Friends.
  5. Get in some soup. I am pretty dependent on soup anyway, but it is especially useful when you are short on time and energy as it is super easy to chuck in the microwave and chow down on at  short notice. Ditto cereal. Also get some fruit in you.
  6. If possible, get some cheerleaders. My bestest cheerleader is always my best bro and part time girlfriend Lizzie, who was wonderfully supportive and also doing a different course to me, meaning that our deadlines/essays were never the same and there was none of that Oh Shit You've Nearly Finished feeling you are at risk of with coursemates. Even now we're not living together, we are all over the Word Count Snapchat game and she is a great person to call when I need egging on. Find your Lizzie. (Good advice for life really but I won't bang on about that in this post). And, related to this,
  7. Celebrate dem Word Count victories; let them motivate you, and even time yourself to see how quickly you can get your next 100 words/page done.
  8. And this is my golden advice: DO NOT WAIT TILL YOU ARE IN THE MOOD. I am saying this to myself as much as you guys. You are never going to be in the mood to write 6000 words in French (what I am meant to have mostly done by now. Not going well.) The secret is to just get the ball rolling - close some unhelpful tabs, get your documents open, and write just a sentence, and just keep going. You will end up in the mood just by making yourself work. This will save you from having most of the work left at the last minute. Not that I know anyone that would do that. COUGH.

And that is all my advice for you angels. Above all else, keep going, you are going to get it done, and you are not alone. And if all else fails, just make a mahoosive mental list of all the things you are going to do to celebrate the fact the essay is done!

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