If you have considered the expectations, guidelines, and advice presented in this site, one thing should be very clear: you need to begin to write your paper well in advance of the due date. You should leave yourself enough time to do the following:
- Organize your thoughts (by marking up your text[s] and taking good notes) and then follow those six steps in order to articulate your provisional thesis.
- Use that provisional thesis and the written results of the six steps in order to map out the essay: write an outline! (Many of us start with an outline and then keep discarding it and rewriting it as we go.)
- See if you can use the written results of the six steps as the foundations of any paragraphs. If you can, plug them in!
- Produce a rough draft, paragraph by paragraph, making sure that close reading is at the heart of each.
- Go through each paragraph and focus on those topic sentences: each topic sentence should articulate the point of the new paragraph and provide a transition that clearly and explicitly connects the point of the previous paragraph to the point of the new paragraph.
- Now is the time to follow the first three tips in the Revising and Proofreading page: take time away from your paper; read your completed draft out loud and slowly and then fix whatever your ear tells you to fix; seek and get feedback from friends and/or the Academic Skills Centre (905-828-3858).
- Incorporate the feedback you receive from others, along with your own self-criticism, into a new draft. At this point, you'll probably need to refine your thesis!
- Revise again on the basis of your refined thesis and make sure one last time that your argumentation (topic sentences, transitions, logical progression, etc.) is coherent and effective.
- Print out a final draft.
- Now is the time to follow the fourth tip in the Revising and Proofreading page: run a spellcheck and then read your completed draft silently and slowly, fixing whatever your eye tells you to fix.
- Print out a final final draft, if necessary.
Clearly, this process will require at least several days and often a week or more, depending on the length and scope of the paper and on external contingencies such as your own schedule and the schedules of your readers.
One last piece of advice: try scheduling your writing in the morning! Everyone's different, but many writers find that they can write with ease in the morning. (They then revise in the afternoon.) Give it a shot.