I can write my essay in a few hours can’t I?

October 31st, 2007
By Jon H
I can write my essay in a few hours can’t I?

How long do you need to write an essay answer of 3,000 words? can you ramble it off in a couple of hours, or will it take you days on end to get it finished, proofread and printed so that you can hand it in?

I used to wonder about this all the time when I was studying – how could I schedule in my lectures, reading, research and actually writing the essays that I needed to complete. Should I estimate a few hours or a few days to complete my essay, and would it be that simple?

Did you do the research/planning?

What? You didn’t? Why not? – Researching your topic or question is a must. By not researching what you are about to write about means you don’t have any ‘stored knowledge’ to build upon. You will simply be chasing around to find quotes and sources to reference to.

Not planning your answer I consider to be worse than not researching, as even if you’ve done your research, but not completed a route to your answer, then how do you suppose you’re going to get there? Surprising, but you will need a detailed plan before you begin writing, and the more detailed/directional it is then the easier you will find writing your paper.

How long does it take to actually write?

This question really does depend on the individual, but you will need to think about:

  • Have you made a detailed and easy to follow plan?
  • Have you researched the topic/question properly?
  • Have you documented your sources/compiled a bibliography?
  • Are you wide awake?
  • Are there distractions, such as a TV, family, or building work close by?
  • Do you procrastinate?

All of the above points will increase your ability to write the essay in a short space of time and increase the quality of work that you eventually present to your professor or lecturer. Not being awake when you’re righting your essay might seem a little like common sense, but by not being ‘focussed’ on what you are righting about can dramatically affect your understanding of your answer (in respect to structure and cohesion), and the readability of your paper for the marker.

Having too many distractions around will only cause you to break away from your work and end up with your argument being broken and hap-hazard. Being a procrastinator (as I am) isn’t good for writing your essay, as you will put off writing it until the very end, and as this was the only option open to me in my undergrad, it didn’t help when I had only a few hours to write the document – the stress built up very quickly.

If you don’t have great typing skills, then I suggest you give yourself a little more time than say 6 hours to write an essay – a one or two ‘touch typer’ will need more time than if you’re a speed typist pumping out thousands of words an hour! Total time it’ll take, that depends on you and your ability to focus on topic and become integrated in your essay – it used to take me around 12 hours to write a 3,000 word essay, and that was after I had completed all of the research, planning and view of how I was going to structure the paper.

Can you write an essay in a few hours, no, but if you’re looking at a few hours as being 6–8 hours then I would say yes it is feasible, and you can produce a good essay answer, just don’t forget to proofread it.

Remember: Whether you have the ability to write your essay question in a few short hours, or whether you choose to spend an hour a day for a week, make sure you complete your research before you start to write.

Other Resources

Procrastination – Want to learn more about what it is and how to banish it from your life? click here

Stuck and need more answers on the structure of essays? – the How to write an essay article produced by Birmingham University is certainly an interesting read.

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