The 18 Stages of Writing an Essay

1.  Wait, that’s on the syllabus? 

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The semester is already halfway over and your professor casually mentions in class the 11-page monster research paper you were supposed to start writing four weeks ago. Except you didn’t. Oops.

2. I’ve got plenty of time.

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It is, after all, only Monday. And this is due Friday, right? It’s fine.

3. It’s due tomorrow.

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Somehow the week slipped away from you and it’s 9 p.m. and you haven’t even started your paper. It’s crunch time.

4. What’s this over, again?

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Once you do actually start to work on your paper you find yourself lost in the stacks on the fourth floor of Evans and you realize two things. One, you haven’t been paying enough attention in class. And two, you don’t understand the Dewey decimal system. At all.

5. What’s a thesis?

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You’ve found a few books that look promising, and you’ve even skimmed a few online articles—none from Wikipedia, obviously. But now that you’re actually sitting down with a pen and paper, you can’t remember how to write. Anything. And Evans is about to close.

6. Hey, I’m pretty good at this!

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You relocate to the Annex and a few hours go by and your fingers are flying across the keyboard. Bam! Look at that. Know what that is? That’s a beautiful transition sentence, that’s what that is. Beautiful. You give yourself a mental pat on the back and move on to page five.

7. Where has all the coffee gone?

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Starbucks is closed and you’re down to your last energy drink. Empty cups and cans litter the table and everyone else is going home. Not you, though. You’re just getting started.

8. Word vomit.  Word vomit everywhere.

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Seven pages in and you’re saying what you said and defending what you said with things you’ve said and words you’ve written about that thing you’re talking about and you just keep saying what you’re saying and words are coming out and they’re everywhere and everything’s the same.

9. How do you English?

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Wait. Weight. Wait…they’re. Their? They’re. Their? Where. Wear? Were? You can’t trust Word. You can’t trust Autocorrect. You can’t trust anyone. How do people speak more than one language? And why did you sign up for this class?

10. I will never graduate.

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It’s the end of the world and if you don’t write this essay, you won’t pass this class and you’ll lose your scholarship and you’ll never graduate and your parents will hate you and you’ll never get a real job and you’ll have to sell your kidney and you don’t even think they’re going for that much on the black market right now and you’ll wind up under a bridge and alone forever.

11. I will graduate!

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That last energy drink kicks in and you squint through bloodshot, bleary, tear-filled eyes and see before you a ten-page masterpiece. One more page to go.

12. I am stupid.

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What is your thesis again? By now it sounds horrible. Just like this paper.

13. Just a five-minute nap.

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You set your head down on the desk because it’s so nice and cool and you close your eyes for just one second because you’re so tired and when you wake up it’s been two hours and normal people, people who don’t procrastinate like you do, they’re waking up for school.

14. I’m going to die.

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You look at the time and you’re pretty sure you just had a heart attack. If you die, you don’t have to turn this in, right?

15. Siri, can you write my bibliography?

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Because you’ve never written one before. And you’re not planning on starting now.

16. Walk of shame.

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It may be more of a stumble, actually. Class starts in 15 minutes so it’s time to hit print on that sucker and book it across campus while wearing the same clothes from yesterday. It’s okay, people from your Friday classes will never know. Maybe you’ll even start a trend.

17. I survived!

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You slide into your seat with your essay in your hand, ready to turn that puppy in. You’re even five minutes early. Look at you, being such a good student.

18. I will never, never, do this again.

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You turn in your essay and resolve the events of the last twenty-four hours will never repeat themselves. Until the next essay is due.

–Caelan Cheshire

[Featured image, gif sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]

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