Help me stop procrastinating, stop panicking, and get my schoolwork back on track
November 27, 2010 2:41 PM Subscribe
How do I overcome paper writing anxiety?
posted by naoko to education (30 answers total) 117 users marked this as a favorite
I am in my first semester of a masters degree. As an undergraduate, I constantly struggled with writing papers (especially getting started with the writing process), and the only way I got them done was to procrastinate and panic until the very last minute when putting the assignment off was literally no longer an option and the work just had to get done - a process that involved lots of all-nighters, caffeine, and crying, but always ultimately got me As and Bs. As a graduate student writing longer papers, this is obviously no longer going to work - 20-page research papers aren't going to get done in just a couple nights, no matter how long and miserable those nights may be - I know I need to manage my time better and not be hampered by epic freak-outs every time something is almost due.
Getting started on writing at all (or starting a new section of the paper) is the hardest part - my mind blanks, I look at my piles of notes and have no idea how to organize them or where to start, and I just sit there thinking that I'm stupid and bad at school, and asking myself why I thought I was going to be able to handle graduate work when college was always such a struggle.
As things currently stand, I have just over two weeks to crank out two of said 20-pagers. One of them I haven't started on at all beyond a topic, and one of them I have piles of research and about four pages written (introduction and background sections), but am freezing up on writing more and keep procrastinating on it by...doing more research. Every night I realize how little I got done and start crying. How can I a) get this work done, and b) work on not being such a wreck for my next three semesters? I don't even need to get great grades, just to pass, but the idea of writing anything half-assed and my professors (at least one of whom I expect to have again in the future) thinking I'm an idiot just kills me.
I don't know if I just need practical writing strategies, or ways of getting a grip on my emotions, or both. Do I need therapy? Drugs? Better ways of organizing my notes and my sources so I don't feel like I have endless piles of junk to dig through for every single point I want to make? A better routine (e.g. should I work only at the library and never at home?)? Any and all suggestions very welcome.