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You discover what you’re going to say through the process of writing.The flat outline gives you just enough structure to overcome the dreaded “blank canvas” while still leaving room for discovery.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.
Best case scenario, the professor is nice and lets you rewrite it, but why do all that extra work?
Furthermore, asking the professor for clarification shows initiative–that you care about the assignment.
“One more source” can easily turn into hours that you could have been writing.
To overcome the temptation to procrastinate on research, I employ my favorite approach for beating all forms of procrastination: setting a time limit.
If you don’t have an environment where you can focus, you’ll waste hours jumping back and forth between the paper and whatever distractions come your way.
To make sure you have the focus of a zen master, you must create a writing environment that enables zen-like focus.As Cal Newport explains, it’s called a flat outline.In Cal’s words, the flat outline works as follows: Isn’t this so much better?I never created an outline with bullets and numbers and letters before writing the paper.I always just made one up afterwards because I was to turn one in with the final paper.Demonstrating this level of engagement with your assignments can only boost your grade.Once you understand the assignment, you need to start researching. If you’re not careful, research can be one of the best ways to procrastinate.Students would spend hours researching and writing a paper on a completely different topic than what the professor assigned.It doesn’t matter how good a paper is–if it doesn’t answer the question, it’s going to receive a bad grade.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.Yet, when I was an English TA in college, I saw this problem all the time.