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?

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.
posted by naoko to Education (30 answers total) 125 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 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.

Other people will address other parts of what you wrote so I will address just this.

I think worrying about coming off as smart could be a really big part of what is tripping you up. Is there any way you could try to put all the worries/thoughts of how smart you are/how smart you come off out of your mind completely?

I have the inkling that you have spent a lifetime demonstrating that you are smart. Maybe now it's time to conclude that you are smart and you can focus on the other half of things- getting into a habit of working diligently and regularly.

Can you take just these two assignments- JUST these two, and decide that you don't care if you come out sounding like an idiot when you complete them, as long as your *process* in completing them was satisfactory to you?

You probably have a good idea of how long it will take you to research and write these papers, and you can break that down into an even amount every day.

Can you just do that amount of work every day and not review/revise/second-guess what you've done at all, and worry over how it sounds? Just do the amount of work, and drop it. The product will end up being what it ends up being.

I think this might help you get into a much better habit.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:51 PM on November 27, 2010 [12 favorites]

This might also help even though it sounds a little counterintuitive/dumb: try to ban yourself from thinking about the assignment.

I don't mean ban yourself from thinking about the topic of the assignment, just the assignment itself.

Thoughts like these:

"Oh man, I really don't want to do this."
"This will suck."
"This is going to take forever and I don't know where to start."
"I only have 4 days left."
"Maybe I should have picked a different topic."

Whenever thoughts like this come into your head don't allow yourself to engage with them at all, just let them float on by. Just let yourself start doing the assignment on autopilot in a way. Action, not thinking. The more your let yourself think about the assignment the harder it is to just do it. At least it's often that way for me.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:59 PM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I have the inkling that you have spent a lifetime demonstrating that you are smart. Maybe now it's time to conclude that you are smart and you can focus on the other half of things- getting into a habit of working diligently and regularly.

This sounds about right, thank you.

I meant to include, but forgot, another sub-question: when you have two papers due the same day, do you all find that the best strategy is to crank one out and then move on, or jump between the two until the end? I had been aiming for strategy one, but that has left me with a fraction of one paper and completely neglecting the second one.
posted by naoko at 3:04 PM on November 27, 2010

Are you in a field in which this is going to be your job for your whole career? If it makes you that miserable, maybe you should reconsider. Because I had this problem. I had to quit graduate school. I'd never go back.

If you're in a field in which this is just a hoop to jump through, well.. Acknowlege the anxiety feelings and just let them go by. Go for a long walk or a short run or workout at the gym and clear your head before picking it back up. (I used to take a lot of smoke breaks in freezing cold weather for this purpose but I don't recommend it, to be honest.) And the caffeine is going to make anxiety worse!

Can you make yourself an outline of the paper, step by step by step, from beginning to end? Do that, and **commit to it**. Decide you're not going to take that outline and tear it up and rework it because you find a flaw in it the next day, before you start writing. Commit to the outline and start writing. Once you know what the paper's about, section by section, just work on one section at a time. It doesn't have to be perfect and your professor is NOT going to think you are an idiot. The graduate program knows better than to admit idiots. They wouldn't have let you in if they had reason to believe you were not capable of doing the work. And they were right - you CAN do the work.

So crank out your 2 20-pagers in two weeks. You have plenty of time right now. Also, yes, why not look into workshops for practical writing strategies? The truth is, in undergrad, professors pretty much assume you know how to write research papers. But high school often doesn't teach students how to write them. A lot of students get them done the way you did - procrastination, anxiety, all-nighters - but it doesn't have to be that way if you actually learn a process. It's really not your fault that you weren't taught about a process for this, and it'll probably make your life a lot easier if you learn the process. AFTER this semester.
posted by citron at 3:11 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Regarding your sub-question, I find that it works well to devote alternating, substantial chunks to each one: 3-4 hours on one, break for lunch, 3-4 hours on the next, take a break, etc.

Have you tried setting goals along the way – and then making sure you stick to them? Even if it's just writing a few paragraphs at a time, make it happen. Even if you think they're terrible, let them stand. You can edit or re-write or even delete later. But try to shut off the "must prove I'm smart" filter long enough to get something down on the page earlier.

If you start freaking out, remind yourself that you got good grades in college, that you got into grad school, and that you're supposed to be where you are. You're not an impostor. Yeah, therapy might help you address this, and the issues causing it.
posted by bassjump at 3:20 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's what works for me.
1. Make an outline of the paper, a bare bones outline, just a road map of sorts
2. Write a sentence or two for each part/ paragraph
3. Expand the idea of the sentence
4. Expand some more

I recommend using Scrivener to write, it's fantastic.
posted by dhruva at 3:22 PM on November 27, 2010 [10 favorites]

Once I learned that I was simply getting in my own way, I would use the trick of imagining my friend had come to me because she could not get a paper written and how I would go about convincing her just how do-able it all was. By pretending I was doing someone else's work I could get going with the project. It is a little embarrassing how silly this is but it worked for me.
posted by InkaLomax at 3:25 PM on November 27, 2010 [14 favorites]

Situations like this are where an outline, the humble lowly outline, is your friend. (I answer this question as a student pursuing a second master's degree, fwiw. And who may or may not currently be procrastinating by answer this question. But I do use outlines when I write papers!)

I find that it's next to impossible to write a paper of that length without at least a general direction of where the paper is headed. You mention that you have piles and piles of research, but what are you researching? What question are you attempting to answer with your writing? You already have an intro and a beginning for one paper, but you haven't moved forward because you have so much information at your fingertips. Write an outline about where you want your paper to go and it will make a world of difference. Lay out general themes/headings/subheadings you want your paper to discuss and then start writing!

When writing a paper, this is my process:
research topic
write general outline
figure out where my research has holes in it (in other words, whatever I've written in my outline may or may not be covered in my research. I fill those holes or adjust my outline to match the information I do have.)
set a pages/day goal

I tell myself that I'll write for an hour or until I reach a specific point in my outline, whichever comes first. Then I take a break. I'll walk the dog, have a snack, whatever. It helps if my breaks are not surfing the web. They tend to stretch out that way and then time flies and then I have a Situation on my hands. No good. When the break is over, I get back to business. If I'm still in the Paper Writing Zone when I reach my goal for the day, I give myself permission to keep writing knowing that it makes the days ahead a little easier.

As a graduate student, you have to begin to pay extra special attention to little things on your paper that will make a difference. Citations and references are hugely important, as is following the guidelines given to you by your department or professor. Pay attention to font sizes, appropriate margins, title pages, et cetera. Getting all of those things right is just as important as writing well.

As for the two-papers-due-on-the-same-day dilemma, I would say write one completely then write the other. I am incapable of writing two different papers simultaneously, but you may work differently. I think it would be a relief to have one assignment completely finished and then concentrate on the next one. Give yourself an early due date on the paper on which you have made the most progress, get it finished and turn it in, then move on to the next one.

Or, what dhruva said far more succinctly.
posted by heathergirl at 3:26 PM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

What dhruva said. I'd also like to suggest that if you feel at all stressed due to the length of the papers, just think of them in smaller chunks, and plan work on them accordingly. That really helped me get past the terror associated with writing a big paper.
posted by metarkest at 3:27 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

14 days, 40 pages. 2.85 pages final text per day. 1.42 for each paper. Or whatever else. The point is that you can do this calculation on assignment day, spend three or four days on getting your literature together and making an outline, and then write. - in chunks.

Begin writing after a comfortable breakfast, or earliest possible after that. Get rid of internet and telephone while you write. Write in 40-minutes chunks. Take breaks. After being done with paper 1 I would move over to paper 2. Stop writing every day after you've done your pages. Spend the rest of the time organizing your notes for the next day, reading up, and revising your text from the previous day.

Actually I don't work like this if I don't have to. My note-taking and final writing tends to be more mixed together; but then I avoid time crunches. If under pressure, structure is the only thing that works. Takes your mind off the inner critic (the smart one with the leaden feet).
posted by Namlit at 3:31 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Clarification: after being done with the day's share of text for paper 1, I'd move over to the day's share of text for paper 2. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by Namlit at 3:33 PM on November 27, 2010

This hamburger analogy from Feeling Good by David Burns might explain the overwhelmed/do-nothing feeling: Imagine sitting down to eat one hamburger (or something you like). Across the table you see a pile of ALL the food you'll ever eat in your life. You think, "it's too much! I'm bad at eating! I'll never finish" so you don't feel like eating even that one hamburger.

The trick is to tackle only a very small, manageable piece of the assignment at a time, and don't worry about more than that. You can only write one word at a time. Trying to hold the entire assignment in your head while working just makes you nervous. So, if you have the next step in mind, ie "add points from x reference paper to outline" or whatever, then forget about the big picture and do just that one small step. (But, I'm procrastinating on a paper now too, so I obviously don't have it together yet and YMMV.)

Why does it matter if your professors did think you were an idiot? Their opinions don't change how much you know.
posted by sninctown at 3:35 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Why does it matter if your professors did think you were an idiot?

Huh. Now that you mention it, I have no idea.
posted by naoko at 3:48 PM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

This may not help you for the 2 papers coming up, but the only way I could write my dissertation was to establish a daily writing quota--one that will seem at first absurdly paltry. My quota was about 2 typed pages a day, and I simply wrote what I could--a lot of it rough or incoherent, but at least it was out of my head and slowly moving forward. The trick that really works is to always stop writing once you've hit your quota. It sounds crazy, but it will slowly train you away from the binge/purge method of writing. I found that when I left off writing, I was more likely to continue thinking about what I was writing as I went about my day. I was continuing the thread in my head so that when I started writing the next day, I already knew where to begin, and the pages would just come easily. Well. Mostly.
posted by oohisay at 3:50 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm a mathematician, so my job is to write papers, with no deadline except "you must publish or you won't get tenure".

My approach is to start a paper by sketching out the skeleton---like an outline, but in the actual paper file. So, lots if section headings; a couple of sentences in the section saying what I'm going to be talking about. Lots of BLAH Blah blahs. Don't shoot for final prose here, just sketching out the form. (in particular, no graphics, just placeholders. Graphics suck time from writing. Probably not an issue in your case. )

Then, after a little while of this, you come back to the paper, and hey, it's five pages already.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:28 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

As others have mentioned before, the old-fashioned, humble outline is your friend. Divide what seems like a daunting task into smaller, manageable bits, and force yourself to work on at least one section per day...just start putting the words down and don't freeze up and go over it again and again, you can edit later. One thing that helps me is organizing my source material beforehand into folders or piles. For example, let's say your topic is "Tropical Fruits of the World." You need to narrow it down somehow, maybe in this case your outline would be something like:

1. Introduction- give some general background, define terms you'll use throughout the paper (definition of tropical, number of fruit species, benefits to diet) and then introduce what the focus of the paper is- for example, the expansion of the tropical fruit export market due to increased speed/availability of transportation.

2. Main body of the's where dividing your sources comes in handy. Every topic is immense, narrow down and focus on a few key aspects of it. Don't stress about what you might be missing. In this case you might have something like:
A. history of fruit exportation:
1.Caribbean "banana republics"
2. pineapple cultivation in Hawaii.
B. Increase in the world market for Asian fruits
1.the pomengrate
2. lychee
C. Economic impact in country of origin
1. farmers,
2. large corporations
3. governments,
4. shipping industry
D. environmental impact-
1. agricultural
2. related to transportation

3. Summary and conclusion- summarize your major points, talk about where the field is headed and what questions remain, emphasize why the topic is important

In this case, it's easy to give yourself a manageable task- "today I'm going to write the section on pineapples in Hawaii." Pull out your pineapple reference folder and go to it! I recommend writing something for all sections and don't worry about revising or editing until the very end. You do want your paper to have an overlying theme that somehow connects the sections, and sometimes that's difficult to see until you have all the sections done. leave yourself at least a couple days for revisions and editing, but don't allow yourself to second-guess yourself at the last minute.

Having to write two papers at the same time is a challenge...I'd probably end up working on just one paper for two or three days and then switching over to the other one. This is enough time to make you feel like you've accomplished something and allows you to get on a bit of a roll, but hopefully switching papers will help prevent you from getting writers block or stalling. Be flexible...if you're having a lot of trouble on a particular section one day, put it aside and work one something easier from the other paper. You're still making progress.

Lastly, you still have plenty of time. Writing research papers does not have to do with your natural intelligence and doesn't at all reflect your personal worth. It's a skill, one best learned by dedication and practice. Reading good papers will also help. Lastly, is there anyone (an advisor, fellow classmate, etc.) who can help you by reading over your draft a few days before it's due? This should help you avoid any typos and highlight areas that need clarification, and it will also help prevent procrastination as you will have to get the paper ready on time to show to your proofreader. Maybe you can find someone willing to swap and proofread papers. Reading someone else's paper may be helpful to you as well.

Good luck!
posted by emd3737 at 4:35 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

You sound like me. I (not so far in the past) failed an English Comp I class. I know, unpossible, right? Problem was, while my turned in work consistently scored above 95 (though you'd never know it from my unedited MeFi history), I have a problem making myself START writing and missed enough assignments to fail.

What helps (not completely, nothing does) is thinking of it as a MeFi comment. I started noticing that I'd be terrified of a cheesy 300-word assignment, and then procrastinate by writing nearly 300-word comments on MeFi. Turns out, once I start writing, it pretty much writes itself into more than enough. Making myself edit down the raw words afterwards is much easier than putting the first words on the blank page. I actually WANT to edit - I think about it all day and can't wait to get back home to make changes once it's there on paper.

So I guess the main takeaways for me are: (1) The subject matters - I'm interested in MeFi threads I choose to participate in; lame English Comp I paper topics, not so much. There isn't much I can do about that, other than to make up a contrarian or ridiculous thesis just for fun. I'm sure that drives the instructors nuts, but I'm not doing it to be a smart ass, I just need to keep my interest up. That's probably not an option for grad school, but then again, I would hope you find the subject matter more interesting than I do trite ENC-101 assignments. (2) Just get something on paper on the first day of the assignment. That gets the editing compulsion going in the back of my mind.
posted by ctmf at 4:42 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing the outline/skeleton and daily writing quotas. I get assigned lots of different writing genres at work, often with little guidance and few examples. So once I'm done indulging in a mini-panic attack, it's time for work: outline, research, revise outline--the easy stuff. Then I freeze up again. How do I jump start again? Just writing without editing myself. Doing something like 750 words can be really helpful for teaching yourself how to do this.

Editing is waaaaay easier than writing, so go easy on yourself during the first draft. Make your page quota, worry about diction, flow and all those other interrupting, niggly voices in your head later during your editing process. Give yourself at least a day off after finishing the first draft before editing--you need a clean, clear head for the second attack. I like to allow for about an hour's editing time per page of the final doc myself, but YMMV.

Good luck! I'm hoping to be in your shoes this time next year.
posted by smirkette at 5:16 PM on November 27, 2010

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 haven't read all the responses, but one view of procrastination is that you (or, ahem, me) procrastinate because you are a perfectionist. You want it to be perfect, and you're so worried about it being perfect that you don't start until it's too late for it to be perfect. So you have so little time you just get it done and turn it in. It's the only way to get it done at all.

If you can get over your perfectionism, you might find you can get things done sooner because you have taken a lot of pressure off yourself.

Also, on another note: lots and lots of folks struggle in grad school. We get this idea that because we are in grad school, we're supposed to already be good at whatever it is, when, of course, we're in school because we are still learning. But lots of folks struggle and have a really tough time. Student counseling centers exist just for this reason. They may even have a group of grad students who meet weekly to talk about these various stresses. And they probably have therapists and counselors who can talk to you individually.

There's no reason not to use these services.

In terms of how to tackle these papers: if you focus on one paper, I'd be concerned you won't ever get to the other paper. But you'll probably get in the flow better if you tackle big parts individually. Maybe you can take breaks from each paper by working on the other.

Also: just write. Don't over think, don't edit, don't delete. Just write. If you don't have the proper cite in front of you, just add a note to yourself in brackets and keep writing. Don't look back--the next day, when you review it, you'll probably find it's much better than you thought.

Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 5:40 PM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

Hey, you're me! I have papers and projects, and just got a job where I can work from home. I'm a giant ball of stress!

I went to see a school counselor, and so far this has been more helpful than I thought. Please go talk to one at your school - even if all you do is talk for a few sessions, it is sooo helpful.

Beyond that, I've just stopped trying to force myself to work. If I need a break, I take one, for however long. Today was one giant break. I let my mind relax, so that now I can jump right back into my papers.

(If you just want to grumble about school to someone, feel free to mefi-mail me.)
posted by shinyshiny at 6:15 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 1. Writing Center--your campus should have one staffed with people proficient in helping other people overcome writing blocks. Call for an appointment and tell them you're a grad student. They may have other grad students who can help you. You can also use the writing center as accountability part way through by setting up a second appointment and telling them you'll have a certain number of pages done. Don't worry that you may end up with someone who knows nothing about your field. They know stuff about writing, and you may just need someone to talk to to get over your hump.

2. Pomodoro Technique or another time-management system--figure out how you're going to work well. The pomodoro technique means that you work for 25 minutes and break for 5 min. I find 25 min. too long when I'm stuck, so I do 15 min. followed by a 5 min. break. When I'm really stuck, I start w/ 2 or 5 minutes. It's better than nothing. Or if I'm on a roll, 3x15 (45 min.) followed by a 15 min. break. To start, you might want a goal of working for 20 minutes out of an hour (that's working, not freak-out time). Then move to 30, etc. Once, I set the timer for 10 min. and told myself that's how long I had to freak out. That's it. Then I had to get to work. It feels sort of funny sitting there timing yourself freaking out--you start to figure out that you will have less freaking out to do if you work rather than freak out, but sit there for the full 10 minutes and feel the freak out before moving on. And the breaks are important--Do non-internet work for them if you want to feel productive (laundry, snack, push-ups, whatever).

3. For the two-paper problem, I usually did just one at a time, which always led to a crunch for the second one. I don't know if it was a good choice, but I never turned anything in late. I think I would try to do the research for both simultaneously and work on outlining/planning for both, but I could only really write one at a time. However, STOP doing research right now. You are in a research vortex. It feels good to research because you feel like you're being productive and you're in control of the situation. But you need to STOP because you have plenty of research right now. You may need a stray article or two later, but you have more than enough to start writing with already. The Research Vortex is a downfall for me, but I have to be honest with myself and recognize when research has turned into a procrastinating technique rather than a productive activity. Then I have to go start writing. Even just a little bit. Otherwise, I'm being dishonest with myself and not helping my cause.
posted by BlooPen at 6:46 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just start writing. The first thing that comes into your head about the topic. Don't worry about a great introduction, don't spend a bunch of time outlining, do enough research initially so that you have a good overview of the sources and the subject. Then just starting writing. As you continue to write, you will begin to see what parts need more clarification, or explicit citations, and you can add those. Your thesis may evolve, this is OK. Don't kill yourself over the introduction and conclusion early on, will come much more naturally once you have the rest of the paper in place.

This style of writing requires a lot of editing, but try to separate your editing time from your writing time. Be careful not to let yourself get sucked into "editing mode" while you are in the middle of writing. I know it can be difficult if you are careful about your grammer, word choice, and sentence flow, but try to just keep writing things down until you have a particular section done. Then go back, move things around, reword, reorganize, correct typos, etc. The most difficult part is getting the first words down onto the page, polishing just takes time. One technique I have found helpful when I get really stuck is to record myself talking or using a speech-to-text program like Dragon Naturally Speaking. If you want to get a lot of words down quickly, it really does help.
posted by sophist at 12:38 AM on November 28, 2010

I recommend using Scrivener to write, it's fantastic.

Can't agree more with this. If you're the kind of writer who has organizational issues, Scrivener can save your sanity. You can download a free trial for thirty days-- and that's thirty days that you actually use it, not a single month.
posted by jokeefe at 12:46 AM on November 28, 2010

I didn't mean to imply to write without any outline, just not to get consumed by it (this depends on the scope of the paper obviously). I once shared your fears of imperfection and agonized over every essay I wrote, but if you are serious about research and graduate school you must learn to write as a workmanlike skill, just like going out and chopping wood or mowing the lawn. Also, dhruva's strategy is excellent.
posted by sophist at 12:50 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, starting work first thing in the morning, when you're most awake. It's amazing what a difference it makes.
posted by jokeefe at 12:55 AM on November 28, 2010

Best answer: I really recommend reading Anne Lamott's Shitty First Drafts.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 10:50 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm in the same situation as you, first semester of a masters degree, and I'm currently avoiding writing my own papers so I'll make this brief. It's a trick I'd forgotten from my undergrad but that I've just remembered in the past week:

Get the word count. However you have to do it. My papers are 15 pages minimum each, and I figured about 320 words/page 12-pt TNR = 4800 words. Like you, reading for my papers doesn't stress me out nearly as much as actually writing the thing, so I just typed out 4800 words of quotes. After that, for some reason, I could breathe easy, knowing that if need be I could just arrange them in a sensical order, replace half with plausible paraphrases, write 500 of my own words in 20 minutes, and I'd get a B.

After this I could actually write the paper.

The bonus to this method is that all that research and copying-out of quotes? That's something you had to do anyway.
posted by skwt at 7:32 PM on November 30, 2010 [13 favorites]

Oh and the thing about not wanting your prof to think you're an idiot? I have this fear to a degree that surprises me, but rather than soul-search about what that says about my broken personality and philosophize my way out of the problem like a Buddhist, I advocate taking real-world steps towards circumventing that eventuality. Even if I don't actually do it, I'm at least telling myself that if I have to, to soothe my ego, I will, like a juvenile little blowhard, go and talk to my prof after I've given him my essay and like, somehow... explain and/or demonstrate that I am smarter than it. It's a horrible, disgusting solution, and I almost certainly won't do it, but I take solace in granting myself the possibility, should it be necessary.
posted by skwt at 7:39 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi, y'all. So my two papers were due today, and I have successfully turned both of them in! It involved a lot of crying and Diet Coke and cigarettes and one all-nighter, but I really did take to heart all of the fantastic advice I got here, and it made the process much easier than it would have been. I'm looking forward to doing it better next semester with all of your words of wisdom in my toolkit. Thanks very, very much to everyone who answered - I just might not flunk out of grad school after all!
posted by naoko at 3:21 PM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

Congrats on surviving the semester! And thanks for the update.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:56 PM on December 13, 2010

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