How to Write a Paper in Two Days: A Timeline

Last week, Yuem wrote about keeping track of his progress on his senior thesis—a project with distant deadlines. As an underclassman, I usually face shorter-term deadlines for class essays and problem sets, and these require a similar, but condensed approach.


This post has real-life inspiration. Next Thursday, I have a paper due for my philosophy class on Nietzsche. Weekdays are busy with problem sets and assignments. I do not expect myself to start consolidating material for the paper till this weekend, which leaves me plenty of time to plan an effective essay.

Here’s the schedule I successfully used last time, when I was looking at parts of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the Gay Science. Granted, the whole process I’m proposing is longer than just two days, but I promise if you use the pre-writing steps I suggest, you’ll be able to do the actual writing in a much shorter period of time!

5 Days before Due Date: Finish the core readings!

I spent about half of my weekend finishing the readings for the class that I had not been able to finish in time for lecture. Surprisingly few people realize how helpful this is. In a paper-based class, certain prompts will lend themselves to specific readings. You can write a decent paper–maybe even get a “good grade”– by reading only what is absolutely necessary for a paper, but it will fall far short of your potential. You are surrounded by world-class facilities and faculty–don’t waste your time on something sub-par. The best part about writing a paper is finding unexpected connections, after all. Continue reading How to Write a Paper in Two Days: A Timeline