As the semester winds to a close, I, for one, am swamped with an inconceivable amount of stuff to do. My assignments mainly consist of writing – papers, journals, parking tickets, tagging subway cars. All I’ve been doing for the past few weeks is staring at a computer monitor while my derriere pleads for sunlight. No dice, butt. It is here we shall stay.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe your nights are long and your eyes sting like they’ve been visited by killer African bees. Or maybe not. I’ve seen a remarkable amount of people gallivanting about campus, their cell phones a-ringin’, relaxed smiles gracing their faces. Screw those jerks. I’m busy.
When thinking about what I could offer the GW community in this week’s installment of my column, many ideas crossed through my withering brain.
“Maybe they’d like me to weigh in on `Beaver-gate.'” If you read The Washington Post, you’d think beavers had overrun the city and established a provisional government of some sort. One recent headline read: “Voracious Beavers Terrorize Tidal Basin.” A smaller headline, halfway down the page, contained the words “Kosovo,” “bombs” and “death.” Whatever. I want more beaver news! Where is the FoxNews Beaver-copter? I need information, dammit!
But after many hours of contemplation, I decided I would use my three and a half years of scholarly experience to offer you, my loyal readers, some “tips” for successful paper writing. So without further “adieu” (translation: filler), I present my step-by-step strategy for tackling a paper assigned at the beginning of the semester:
January: The first day of classes, professors usually hand out something they refer to as a “syllabus.” Somewhere on that sheet, you discover your paper assignment is due on the last day of classes – April 28. Remember this date. Perhaps you’d like to use a highlighter to emphasize the importance of said date (Ohmygod! That day is YELLOW!). Now carefully fold the syllabus and place it in the toilet. Flush.
February: Watch television. Sleep. A good paper can only be written by a relaxed mind.
March: Look at your calendar. Mutter something about how busy you are going to be when April rolls around. Get a beer.
April 1: Give yourself a pep talk. “Wow, I have a large assignment coming up that is essentially my entire grade for this class. I had better start getting to work.” Good job! You realize the gravity of the situation. Reward yourself with a road trip. Because to think well, you need to see things from a different perspective.
April 15: Begin your research. Now, this takes time and patience. Because Gelman Library long ago gave up the practice of providing students with “books” or “information,” you may be forced to search elsewhere for the necessary materials to write your manifesto.
I recommend raiding other schools’ libraries. My roommate Christopher and I took a jaunt out to George Mason University to acquire some books. As we made off with our precious booty, we set fire to their thatched roof huts, leaving nothing but scorched earth in our wake. Brandishing our sabers, we rode our steeds back across the Potomac, and the townsfolk, thirsting for knowledge, welcomed the return of the conquering heroes.
Well, that’s how it felt. I mean, you walk in knowing nothing about the place, having never gone there for any other reason than to see Beck at the Patriot Center, and you walk out with a stack of books. It’s great!
April 26: OK, 48 hours until that puppy is due. Now is the perfect time to start reading those books. You want the facts to be fresh in your head, not all cluttered up because you read them a week ago.
April 27: Write! A flurry of furious keystrokes shooting from your fingertips like flames from a blow torch. Nothing can stop you now. And don’t worry about spelling. In my vast experience, I’ve found that “spell check” is nevr, evr wrongue.
April 28: Congratulations! It’s 5 p.m., the paper is due and you are well on your way to completing page one. Hey, no sweat – there wouldn’t be a grade of “incomplete” if you weren’t expected to take advantage of it. Join me at the bar! I’ll be waiting.