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The stages of 'not' writing a research paper

Posted: Monday, March 22, 2010

I have recently taken on the endeavor of writing a research paper. Luckily, I survived and managed to complete it within the deadline, barely. I learned a lot of things during this process but the most important are what I now call the 5 Stages of Writing a Research Paper.

Number one is good old procrastination. Our teacher assigned this 15-page paper on the first day of school and had it due in March. Being the student that I am, I laughed at the far away deadline and scoffed repeatedly that I had all the time in the world.

After procrastinating for a good 5 months, Christmas Break rolled around. This brings us to stage 2, feeling sorry for yourself.

I had big plans to whip my paper out of Christmas Break, telling my mother that it would be done by Christmas no problem.

I was wrong. As I continuously put off starting it, my whining levels got higher and higher. What kind of teacher would do this? Who cares whether Hamlet was insane or not? These were only a few of the many statements that came hurling out of my mouth seeking pity from anyone that would listen.

This brings us to stage 3, anger. After Christmas break came and went I began to become angry. Whenever anyone would bring up said paper around me I would either bite their head off and say I had plenty of time or resort back to feeling sorry for myself.

This went on until the beginning of February. Which brings us to stage 4, panic. The early due date was the last day of February and I was determined to finish by then. Unfortunately, I had zero sources and zero pages.

I could feel the walls slowly closing in on me and instead of seeking out books or beginning to organize myself, I wanted to just curl up in a little ball and wish this paper away. When I would be at home watching TV instead of working on my paper I would go into a dull panic and this panic really never went away.

A week before the first due date finally came, stage 5, research. I began to visit libraries when I realized no amount of wishing could make this paper go away.

I finally buckled down and began to write. Once this took place it was not as hard as I thought it would be; given it was hard. But the actual writing was not too bad.

The degree of build up to writing was the only true hurdle. The words came, the books were read and I finally finished my paper.

Now looking back I realized I made that much harder than I needed to, and maybe next time I can avoid these five stages and actually begin my paper in a timely fashion, but probably not.

This article is the opinion of Cassie Sheridan. Sheridan is a junior at Soldotna High School.



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