My Best Tip for Writing Research Papers

This tip is for the actual writing process, which can sometimes be the most overwhelming part. I mean, you’ve checked out all your books, you’ve printed online articles, you’ve taken notes, and you’ve arranged everything into chronological order. You’ve discovered a ton of new things, and it was almost even fun. But now, the dreaded day has arrived. You must actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write the darn thing!

How to begin?

Here’s an activity that will warm you up and teach you how to write your paper without stress. I have all of my research paper students do this in our very first class together. I’ve named it Memory Writing, and I hope you find it useful!

Read a fairly-short, informative article at least three times over the course of one or two days. You can choose an article from a book, a magazine, or the internet. Later, put the article completely away and write about the topic in your own words, based on memory.

If there is a name, date, or some other detail that you can’t remember while writing, just leave a blank space. After you are finished, you can go back and insert facts like names and dates.

Write without stopping and without fretting too much over grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. These things can be corrected once you have something written. Sometimes, just getting started is the hard part, and that’s what this exercise will help you conquer.

Now take your research and apply this technique to it. You’ll find that writing from your head is much easier than writing from notes! You won’t have to worry about the drudgery of changing each note card into your own sentence or rearranging someone else’s words into your own. Just write down what you know, and fill in the blanks later. Happy writing!

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