Final Papers: My Academic Writing Process 2018

Hello Readers! This might be a little boring but I decided to document it anyway. I am striving to write two ten page essays this week. I hope that documenting this will keep me accountable and also help share my writing process in case you’re curious or need some writing tips. I feel as though I have perfected this process after almost four years of higher education and many academic essays. Of course, there is no right way to write!! This is simply what I found works best for me. I do, however, recommend giving this method a try if you’re a very non-linear thinker like me. Enjoy! 

Saturday 2:00 PM: A little bit of a late start, but I went on a long walk this morning and got some fresh air. This brings me to my first step, which is making sure I have all of my secondary sources.

Step 1: Find some secondary sources

This step is more or less exchangeable with step 2. I sometimes map first and then look for my secondary sources and add them to the map later, but most of the time I look for some secondary sources and add everything to my map at once. 

As of right now I have all of my sources for one essay and none of my sources for my second essay so I’m going shopping for a few of those. 

Saturday 3:00 PM: I finally have two bibliographies I am happy with! From this, I move on to the mapping phase. 

Step 2: Mapping

For this, I use Scapple, an app by Literature and Latte which you can download here. I basically write down every idea I have and then connect them afterward in a way that makes sense and communicates an idea. Sometimes I will have a thesis in mind before I do this step, but more often I use this step to find my thesis. I connect all my ideas and then find an argument that I can try to prove in my paper. 

This is what my maps look like for each essay right now. I made these last week. One of them is pretty developed, the other not so much. So right now I’m going to work on bringing them both up to speed and making sure all of my ideas are documented on the map. I will also go ahead and add information from the secondary sources I just accumulated in the last step. This is arguably the longest and most tedious phase as I am combing through all of my secondary sources and class notes. 

Saturday 3:10 PM: Coffee/ Printing all my secondary sources break

Saturday 4:20 PM: It took me about an hour but here I am, coffee in hand, maps open, and ready to destroy these readings with my multicolored pens. 

Saturday 9:57 PM: A few breaks and a few readings later here is my finished map for my first essay!

The boxes in yellow are ideas from the book I am analyzing. My original ideas don’t have a color. And the blue/purple are ideas from secondary sources. 

Step 3: Outline

Saturday 11:00 PM I now have a fresh cup of tea and a full outline of one of my essays. I basically put all my ideas in an order. I’ll work through the outline and write it in paragraph form tomorrow. 

Sunday 3:23 PM A lot of hours later here is the map for my second essay

Ideas from secondary sources are in color and direct quotes from the poem i’m analyzing are in red. As always, my original ideas are in plain text

Sunday 3:36 PM Here is a rough outline of my second essay. 

 This is a bilingual essay which is why there is a lot of red. Sorry! 

Step 4: Write the Essay

Monday 12:30 PM After a long break I have finally begun to write the first of the two essays in full sentences. This takes a little bit of time but it is easy to do word sprints as I already have all of my ideas planned out and all of my citations in order. 

Wednesday 9:00 PM Fast forward a lot of essay writing later I have finally finished my first essay! The second is much of the same and will be done in the next few days. 

Again, this is a bilingual essay so excuse the red marks.  

Thanks so much for coming with me on this journey. Good luck this finals season if you’re still in school. Happy holidays! 

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