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After all, writing a paper isn’t like working math problems or reading a chapter of a book.As frustrating as those activities can be, they always seemed more finite than the monumental task of “writing a paper.” You can’t just open the book and start working: you have to brainstorm, research, outline, draft, edit, and add those pesky citations.The goal of your initial research session is to give you just enough material to start writing.
Most students abandon their hierarchical outline soon after their fingers hit the keyboard.”– Cal Newport, “How to Use a Flat Outline to Write Outstanding Papers, Fast”Ever since I learned the traditional method of outlining papers in 8th grade, I felt the system was broken.
I never created an outline with bullets and numbers and letters before writing the paper.
No one sits down to write with a perfect idea of what they’re going to say.
You discover what you’re going to say through the process of writing.
That is, if the paper is supposed to be 5 pages, don’t spend more than 2.5 hours on research (maximum).
Spending any more time than this puts you at a point of diminishing returns. If you find that you need more info after you start writing, you can always do more research.
As it turns out, my technique wasn’t so original after all.
As Cal Newport explains, it’s called a flat outline.
Often, it’s that they know their field so well that it’s easy for them to think some things are “obvious”…even when they aren’t to us non-experts.
Remember: asking for clarification because you don’t understand the assignment doesn’t make you stupid; what’s stupid is to complete the assignment without understanding it.