Starting A Paper

Contributed by Nicole Sharp on 27 March 2006 at 20:55

How does one start writing papers? Contrary to what some people think, good papers aren’t born and executed in the single night before the due date. Some papers begin before one ever sits down and opens up a word processor.

Personally, I tend to work out papers in my head before I start writing them. With a twenty-minute walk to and from class, I have plenty of time to ponder what I’m going to write about and how I’m going to approach the paper. As the time for sitting down and writing the paper draws closer, I’ll sometimes start composing sentences, particularly for the introduction, in my head. If they’re good sentences, then I might jot them down in my notebook before my next class.

Other students will write outlines of their arguments and ideas. Some will open up Word documents and keep track of ideas or useful phrases there. Writing down a list of main ideas and then putting them in order is another popular route to take.

All of these activities are pre-writing techniques, and they make actually sitting down and writing a paper much easier. Having a guide and structure to work from saves one from spending too much time staring at the same sentence, wondering where to go from there. It can also be a useful way to ease oneself into the right mindset for writing a good paper.

What kinds of techniques for pre-writing do you use? How useful do you find it?

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