by Becca Gordils
A dreaded time of year has come again: midterm season. For some of us, that means papers galore, and tests with dreadful written portions. Our problems lie not only in actually writing these prompts, but figuring out what to write and how to start. Brainstorming is a key part of any writing process, and a few helpful tips and tricks are in order to hopefully alleviate your stress while finishing up the rest of the semester.
1) Take a deep breath and write down whatever comes to mind. Don’t stress too much! Let things come naturally. Outlining and jotting down ideas before you write a concrete paper can really help translate the thoughts you’re having into an academic piece of writing. For the first few moments, simply concentrate on gathering your thoughts on paper.
2) Take mini-breaks. Even if it is during a test, your brain needs time to digest everything you’ve been thinking or planning for your writing. Take up to five minutes during a test to take a break. Sit back, stretch your fingers, or even shut your eyes for a few minutes. If you’re working on a take-home assignment, take up to thirty minutes. Eat a power snack, read a chapter from your favorite book, or even take a short cat nap. Do anything that relaxes you to allow your mind to take on the task at hand with a new refreshed outlook.
3) Take the time to outline. Putting all of your ideas into the order you want to write them may be time consuming, but overall worth it when it comes to completing your writing. You’ll find that all you have left to do is to fill in the details and, when needed, citations. You will be finishing things up faster than you could have imagined.
Don’t just hand it in! You will be surprised how many minuscule mistakes you make that spell-check or your eye doesn’t catch. If taking a test, re-read your writing as much as you can before time is up. If you are working on an at-home assignment, try changing the color of the font in your essay, and then reading it over. You’ll be happier with your writing (and hopefully, grade) and become more attentive in future assignments.
Writing is not as much of a task as it seems. Just take the time to sit down and allow yourself to start writing. You’ll find yourself becoming more productive as time goes on.