The 13 stages of writing an essay at Lancs Uni as told by Taylor Swift

‘I’m dying to see how this one ends’

Let’s be honest, you knew you’d have to write essays for uni, but that doesn’t stop you from pretending you don’t. How many times have you sat at your desk with that clock ticking down to your inevitable doom, having written absolutely nothing? It’s okay, we won’t judge. But when we find ourselves in times of trouble, Taylor Swift comes to us, singing words of wisdom, “shake it off”. With Taylor Swift re-recording most of her albums under her new label, this has the same energy as rewriting all your essays as you realised that you could make them even better.

Without further ado, here are the 13 stages of Taylor Swift that you’ll inevitably go through whilst writing your essay in one night.

I forgot that you existed

We’ve all been there; you began this term determined to be more organised and one of those people who somehow balances their work and social life and don’t have a crippling caffeine addiction. Yet now it’s Week 18 and you decide to check the group chat you muted at the start of the year only to discover you have an essay due on Monday which you have never heard of.

Blank space

It’s time to grab your laptop and open that new word document. You are confronted with a blank space and have no idea where the start.

You can do this! Or at least you think you can. This is going to be a good essay… an okay essay, or it’s gonna go down in flames. Alright, let’s be honest, you’re thinking this essay looks like my next mistake and you’re probably right. 

But wait, the worst is yet to come. Oh no.

My tears ricochet

Your initial boost of adrenaline vanishes as you realise there’s probably more activity in Sugar than your mind right now. Not for the first time, you consider dropping out just so you don’t have to write this. You don’t understand the whole module, let alone the essay question, and the two friends you have met in breakout rooms this year aren’t replying to you. You feel your third crying session of the day coming on and just hope none of your flatmates pass by and hear you.

You need to calm down

Maybe a change of scene will do you good. You wipe your tears and head into the kitchen, only to be greeted by a gang of your flatmates who are having the loudest party the flat has ever seen. They’re sick of you, this isn’t an important essay, they say, you need to calm down. You’re being too loud, you tell them. They ignore you. The party gets louder. The person who never comes out of their room is there. Someone’s half-naked. You can smell the vodka from your room. 

It’s time to go

It’s at this point that you realise you’re going to have to make the dreaded trip to the library, your safe haven that you only really go to whenever you are in a predicament such as this. But that’s why the library is 24 hours right?

You seriously consider not doing the essay at all, as Taylor herself says sometimes giving up is the strong thing, however, the real possibility of having to tell your parents that you have failed this module pushes you on and you book one of the ‘trendy’ study rooms before you can change your mind.

The last time

Starting your 1500 word essay this late is certainly traumatic, and you’re hoping that one security guard doesn’t catch you having yet another breakdown in the library. You find yourself bargaining and making promises like “this is the last time I’m leaving an essay this late” and “it’ll be different next time”, but you know that’s not true. The cycle is as challenging and surprisingly similar to talking to your best mate who refuses to leave their toxic ex, and no amount of reason will get them to understand. 

This is me trying

On second thoughts, maybe it is a good idea to give up. You don’t want a degree anyway. You remember the time you were told you had an above-average reading age in year four. You wonder when it all went wrong. You have a lot of regrets and you’re honestly considering leaving the library and heading back home to get wasted like all your potential. 

Begin again

You end up in the library bathroom? You decide that the essay isn’t going to write itself, no matter how bad it is, so you take a deep breath in the mirror, head back to your desk, down the four energy drinks you purchased at Spar earlier (much to the disappointment of your favourite cashier and your bank account), and start to write. It’s time to begin again. 

Shake it off

Taylor Swift didn’t understand how relatable it would be when she sang got nothing in my brain and yet here you are, also making this up as you go along. Maybe you’re not so different after all? The energy drinks are finally starting to hit and your favourite hype playlist has lured you into a false sense of security, you have plenty of time to finish this.


The sun rises over Alexandra Square, a bird starts to sing and you swear you can smell Greggs. Now you see daylight, things are really starting to come together on the essay, even if you are getting some strange looks from your fellow library-goers. You’re still a bit confused as to what you’re actually writing about, but you press ahead. Those energy drinks are starting to wear off.


The doubts of your most annoyingly on-top-of-their-work flatmate saying “you can’t stay up all night writing an essay” turn out to be painfully true as you crash big-time, asleep on the desk, for a 20-minute power nap. You are rudely awoken by the building work (seriously will it ever stop?) and have the best idea of your life. The essay suddenly seems like a piece of cake and you tap into your natural writing abilities your mum swears came from her.

…Ready for it?

Essay Writing III: The Return of the Hype Playlist. Hey, you’re actually a pretty good writer. You can see where this is gonna go, finally!

You decide to set up a journal in your department where you can flex how much better than everyone else you actually are. Of course, you’ll never actually do this, but a tired essay-writer can dream. And you’re done. You actually finished the essay before the deadline! And as for the fact that you wrote it all in one fugue-like sitting? No one has to know. 


You submit your essay with minutes to spare and thank the Lord this is over. As Taylor sings, leave it all behind and there is happiness, and you have never heard something so true as you intend to never reread that essay again.

The adorable ducks waddling across Alexandra square combined with an intense sense of accomplishment give you a burst of serotonin so strong that you imagine anything is possible, and you could write your next essay, due in two weeks, by tomorrow. Best to have some time off and recover though, after all, you deserve a break from all that hard work.

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