The five stages of writing your essay

aka not writing your essay

Some may call it “being repeatedly stupid” and “perpetually setting yourself up for copious amounts of stress” but I like to think of my essay writing schedule as a refined process, a set of well-curated techniques. Unconventional? Yes, but guaranteed to work. ‘How do I know this?’ you ask. ‘Well’, I answer, with just a hint of pretention, ‘because I have spent the last seven weeks cultivating the perfect method, balancing the fine art of procrastination with my overwhelming need to receive any validation from my supervisor.’ It’s tried and tested. By which I mean, it’s tried my will to live and tested my capacity to read for and write a fully referenced 2,000-word history essay in 14 hours.

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When none of your hour's worth of reading was relevant to your essay title

You might be thinking, ‘why would anyone ever put themselves through that over and over again? Surely they should have learned by the third consecutive time they found themselves crying into their granola while typing at 4:34 am.’ You make a valid point. I should have undergone some form of basic character development- and I have: the same suffering, but this time it’s NOT blatantly obvious to my supervisor. And now, after nearly a whole term here, I can reveal to you the secret of life, the solution to the most pressing issue of our time, the recipe for the perfect essay.

First, ensure you have the following ingredients:

– A distinct lack of self-awareness

– Zero concept of time

– The capacity to do nothing productive for extended periods of time

– Several mugs of filter coffee

– And a generous serving of misplaced optimism

Optional/to taste: (1) overpriced granola pot

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me, an intellectual

Step 1: Ignore the haters. This includes your friends, your supervisor, your own brain begging you to please sit down and for the love of god, do some work. They don’t understand the adrenaline rush of the race against the clock, the blood-shot eyes burning from staring at a screen for 5 consecutive hours, the caffeine high. There’s something exciting, nay, exhilarating about creating entirely avoidable time constraints where your limits are tested and your resolve is forged in the fiery depths of Jstor.

Step 2: Waste all your time. All of it. Anytime you have any time, just make sure you are doing absolutely nothing useful with it. You can be creative with this one. How many ways can one person avoid all their responsibilities and maintain such a strong sense of self-assurance? Here are just a few possibilities:

– Check your email for the 6th time. Now check your Cam email. Now check your email account from when you were nine years old ([email protected]) Forgotten password? Then request a new one, obviously.

– Live out your manic pixie dream girl dreams by taking long walks around the cobblestoned streets of Cambridge. Listen to some indie pop, gaze pensively across the Cam, buy some avocados from the market. Think ‘John Green novel’ except you can’t afford to buy cigarettes for metaphorical value on your student budget.

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so edgy so wow

– Write an article for the Tab (“sorry but how meta do you have to be to procrastinate writing your essay by writing an article about procrastinating writing your essay?” – Zeke the NatSci, when I told him what my title was this week.)

Watch the deadline approach with a blissfully clueless smile. You are a socialite on the Titanic, snapchatting a sick photo of the iceberg in the sunset you can see in the distance.

Step 3: Work out that your essay is due in 2 days. Let yourself marinate in a pool of self-loathing and pity. Lie on your bed live-tweeting your suffering. Lie on your friend’s bed complaining, effectively preventing them from doing any work either. The key point for this step, of course, is to make sure that you are still, at no point, engaging in any kind of work.

Step 4: Counteract your self-hate by fulfilling all your other less urgent responsibilities for a completely false and undeserved sense of achievement. Do your dishes. Do your entire staircase’s dishes. Do your laundry again even though you did it two days ago, and decide that now is the best time to iron every item of clothing you own.

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I iron in #mycalvins

Take a shower, drink some water, make yourself some avocado toast and Instagram a photo of it with a Super Ironic, Super Self-Aware and Super Relevant comment about millennials and the housing crisis. Congratulate yourself on finishing the most basic of tasks.

Step 5: Realise you have 14 hours until your essay is due and you haven’t even read the title yet. Briefly panic, open 17 iDiscover tabs, and down all three mugs of coffee in quick succession. Now type. Type like you’ve never typed before. This is your legacy. Anyways, g2g my essay is due in 13 hours and 58 minutes xoxo

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University of Cambridge