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Paper-writing tips for honest students

By Gillian Darichuk, November 20 2019 —

The time of due dates is upon us and we are all sick and tired of the inspirational step-by-step guides written by hopeful people who have been deceived into thinking that university students are well-adjusted and functional.

Double-check the due date:

You feel a nervous feeling creeping upon you that you’re forgetting something. Goosebumps pop up as the professor references a possible paper topic. A heavy-breathing sprint to find the class outline and a scroll through lets you know that you have a couple of weeks. You could start on that. You should start on that. Theoretically, you could be really good and do a couple of drafts and get someone else to read it. Theoretically.

Start actually flipping through the textbook for information:

What have you been doing in class? Not listening, that’s for sure. What is this? When was that talked about? You are going to bomb this. None of this is familiar enough to bullshit? Might as well try though, right? Is it even worth it? There’s still time to drop out. Do you really want this? Yes, you do. You are going to be fine. You still have some time, you can pull this together in a few days.

Google for the skimmable basics:

Turn to the most faithful and loyal relationship you’ve had in your life so far — Google. They can give you so much information, and from people who have passed if you use it right. There are five tabs with Google definitions open, another two with Wikipedia articles. They are just for links to other sources, you swear. How much do you think strippers make? Well, that’s enough work for a while — it’s the weekend soon, anyway.


How did you end up watching a harmonica tutorial on YouTube on your laptop and another YouTuber apology on your phone? You flip through your backed up Facebook notifications from your grandparents, aunts and uncles. Instagram is flipping between @uofcconfessions and @uofcdating looking for anything related to you. Netflix is frozen mid-browse. You haven’t looked at a clock in a stretch and honestly, you’re scared to at this point because you can simply sense that it’s 2 a.m. It’s okay, you have tomorrow to finish up.

Library research:

Wander the stacks and feel the knowledge whisper to you, this is the perfect place to pad out your bibliography. There are comfy seats and so many outlets, as long as you can find one that is actually connected to electricity. Your semi-filled word document laughs at you whenever you delete anything. You really want to stop deleting anything. You’ll edit later, now is only for expanding your word count.

Consider asking for an extension:

You just can’t do this anymore. Your hands are numb and shaking and your throat has been so dry for so long. All you need is another measly 24 hours. The email is drafted on Office 365, just sitting there. The professors are supposed to be there to help, aren’t they? You can ask for more time. Actually, do you even deserve more time? You are the one that forgot, the one that put it off. But you had other classes, and you’re so stressed. 

Panic quietly:

You’ve been catatonic, staring at your blinking cursor on a fresh word document for five minutes now. If you move, even an inch, your mouth will open and you will scream. You want it to be able to let out the shriek that is echoing in your brain right now. However, others around you may not be at the same point in the writing process, and you have to respect that not everyone is at the screeching in terror stage yet.


Coffee shops are closing. You should get a couple of cups to reheat when needed. You get three large coffees, as light a roast as you can. You’ve been around enough to know that the lighter the roast, the more the caffeine. And every milligram counts. This is the last time, you tell yourself. It’s not an all-nighter, just a late-night. That’s a lie. You slurp down coffee at an unexpected rate, inevitably turning into endless bathroom breaks. If only energy drinks didn’t taste like a transit seat cushion in a wet summer storm.

Finish and hand in:

It’s done — you are amazing. This is proficient enough that you might even do better than just passing. The bags under your eyes are heavy enough to click submit on the dropbox for you. Closing the screen is almost euphoric. You are done, completely done with that pain dragging down your to-do list. You’ll have to do it all over again next week, but at least you can sleep well tonight.

This article is part of our humour section.

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