"I always start several weeks in advance (and yes, I am the anomaly in that sense) because I feel that allowing ideas to percolate usually yields the best papers. Then I begin to write a rough outline (I’m not someone who feels that it is necessary to write one of those uber-intense outlines that are essentially the paper itself). Then I just start writing. I often skip the introduction because that can be the hardest part of the paper, and then I come back to it after I’m done with the main body of work. I beat procrastination simply because I’ve had too many experiences of staying up late into the night before a paper is due and inevitably my grades suffer! I learn from my mistakes!"
"The best advice I can give is to get out of your room! I implemented a rule, because I fall victim to procrastination way more often that I would like. The rule is to go to the library, a study room, the computer lab downstairs, anywhere but your room. My room is for relaxing, and that's why I can't get anything done there. It's the place that I sleep and socialize, so it's no wonder that all I ever want to do in there is sleep and talk to my roommate. I always get so much more done outside of my room because I don't have the distraction of a TV, or a roommate, or the food downstairs. I concentrate better because the library is a place to study. There are resources if I need them, and there is always tons of room to spread out and work. But the best part of working there is the Espresso Royale that's built into the library!"
"Beating procrastination? I don’t. For me, a looming deadline gives me the adrenaline I need to get my papers done and I usually do my best work under pressure. If research is involved, I start a little earlier, otherwise I start writing just a few days before the deadline—whatever is realistic based on the required length and my other assignments. I know lots of people who can’t work like this though, so I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It’s helpful to find a good, quiet place on campus as a paper-writing spot. I made the mistake freshman year of trying to work in my dorm room, and everything took twice as long. I’ve also learned that being on top of assigned readings makes a big difference when sitting down to write the term paper. Understanding the class reading and looking through past lecture notes can save a lot of research time."
Mike Dalton, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign broadcast journalism major, asks professor of rhetoric John Rubins what makes a good paper stand out from the rest.