How to write essays faster

Sometimes, even the most conscientious student can be overwhelmed with papers and exams. In the worst of cases, they can also remember papers at the last minute. Whether you procrastinated on an essay deliberately, it’s always a great idea to learn to write essays faster. The quicker you finish your essay, the faster you can take on other subjects, or relax.

Here are steps to help you write more efficiently:

1. Set your mindset

As with any task, your mindset will considerably affect the way you do things. A negative attitude will definitely be a hindrance. So, if you are panicking about a paper, let yourself calm down first. Encourage yourself and, if it will help, think of a game plan that will help you accomplish your writing task. Likewise, if you think that writing is not your strongest suit, think of your writing assignment as a challenge. Adopt a “can-do” attitude, follow the rest of our steps, or don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Aside from the “can-do” mindset, prepare yourself to be rid of distractions. Turn off your phone’s Wi-Fi or temporarily block social media websites. 

Most importantly, set goals for yourself. Some students find it most helpful to take breaks after 25 minutes of continuous writing. These are realistic goals to set.

Try the Pomodoro technique

2. Find a place that is conducive to studying/writing

The environment in which you study or write will inevitably be reflected in your mind. So, if you want to be able to focus on your essay, go to a place that you find conducive to writing. This can be the library, a coffee shop, or your dorm. Each person is comfortable writing in different places—find yours and go there.

Another trick is to listen to soothing music while you write. Studies have shown that listening to classical music can help with concentration. Give it a try.

Focus on the task at hand

3. Exhaust all your ideas/arguments

Naturally, before your start writing, you should read and understand the instructions and the topic. Start your writing process by brainstorming on the topic. Don’t filter your ideas as good and bad—write them all down. Once you have written all the ideas you can think of, try to connect the ideas. Organize the ones that are connected with each other so it becomes an unofficial outline. If, on the other hand, you are the type who likes to create outlines, you can add more detail and write complete sentences to transform it into an official outline.

There are two rationales for this expert advice:

So you can lay out all they have to say about the topic and choose or develop the strongest argument.

So you will not run out of ideas to write about in the middle of the writing process.

4. Research now, write later

This step can occur before or after you have written all your ideas. It depends on how much you already know about the topic. At times, you will need to research first, then choose your argument or ideas for the essay. Other times, for example when the topic was discussed in your class, you can start with brainstorming ideas. This way you will not expend time and energy digging on an idea or sub-topic that you will not use anyway. When you research after forming your outline, you will search for information and/or sources with direction.

Most definitely, you need to do the research before writing the paper. More than reducing the need to switch to Google (and therefore to research mode), you will be able to write more smoothly when you know what you want to say and when you’re confident that what you’re saying is true and supported by credible sources

5. Use the “TK” approach for missing information

No matter how thorough your research is, it is inevitable to find that there are certain pieces of information that you missed. If you were really thorough in your research, chances are that this missing information is a minor detail. For such instances, simply do what journalists do and type “TK.” This stands for “to come” so your writing flow will not be disrupted. You can return to these missing links after you have finished writing the entire essay.

Taking the time to research missing information may take only seconds or a minute, but it can still disrupt your flow. How many times have you switched to Google mid-paragraph for a tiny bit of information only to find that you have forgotten why you needed that piece of information?

6. Have a thesaurus ready

Everyone goes through this—having a word at the tip of your tongue, yet not finding it. Don’t waste your time searching your mind for the right word. Consult the expert instead: the thesaurus. You may not find it at the tip of your tongue, but you will definitely find the right word in the thesaurus. 

7. Start with the body

Many students make the mistake of trying to write the Introduction first. They get stumped, naturally. Here’s how one writer put it: how can you introduce something that does not yet exist? So there, write your essay first so you know exactly what you will introduce. You will still need to write a hook for your introduction, and there is no guarantee that the process will be faster for that. What this step can guarantee is that the hook and, most importantly, the thesis statement will correspond to the thesis of your entire essay.

Follow this essay structure to write faster

8. Cite as you go

Citing sources is just as tedious as writing itself. This could take a lot of effort just to scour through the sources you have gathered and match them with the information or claim in your essay. The goal, then, is to minimize this while not disrupting your writing flow. There are two ways to cite your sources quickly while writing:

Use the comment function in your word processor. Mark the parts that need citation and write the source you used. You can also include the page number if you included a direct quote or if you’re using MLA citation style. 

Prepare the in-text citation of each of your sources in a separate file, and then copy and paste them where they are needed.

This method is more thorough than going back to every sentence to see which one needs citation.

9. Put on hold your inner editor

The inner editor, much like the inner saboteur, is a hindrance to successful writing. It disrupts your flow and makes you second-guess every thing you write. If you want to write faster, turn off your inner editor for the first draft. You don’t need to perfect the sentences in the first draft. The first draft is mainly for laying out your ideas and the structure of the essay. Once you’re done with the first draft, you may unleash your inner editor to nitpick on language and the organization of the essay.

10. Learn to type faster

This may seem like a silly advice but it can make a big difference. People who type slowly may find that they have to constantly go back and forth between words in their sentences as they type. They run the risk of forgetting what they wanted to say next. Being able to type fast lets you keep up with your thoughts—meaning sentences and ideas can flow freely and naturally.


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We hope that you can try out these tips when you need it. But, of course, cramming or writing your papers at the last minute is stressful, and preferably avoided. Try to manage your time effectively so that you have ample time for each assignment. 

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