Last quarter I wrote an eight-page paper in 3+ hours. And the thing is, the next day I actually turned said paper into my professor. Why would I, a perennial student of writing and a tutor who espouses the many virtues of using a well-paced writing process, write in such a seemingly reckless manner?
- Let's assume you have your topic already selected. If it truly is crunch time, you will want to be writing, not thinking about what you should write about. Some teachers even shape the paper topics themselves. And in the case of an essay exam, the question is obviously right in from you.
- Get to the point...fast. I have yet to post on the virtues of the thesis statement, but let me talk about it for just a sec. The thesis statement--that wonderful sentence that you can usually find towards the end of the introductory paragraph of most strong essays--has the potential to be your savior, even in a bind. Clearly stating what major points your paper will cover and then allowing those points to keep you on track as you write will guide you through the remainder of your drafting. And the wonderful thing is, it will also guide your reader, and papers that flow are papers that are easy to love.
- Leave yourself time to stop and think...even a few minutes. One you've finished the quickest, roughest draft of your life, hopefully you can step away even for a little while, just to separate yourself from the writing you have just emerged from. This rest will give you time to reboot ever-so-slightly before jumping back into the abyss and refining what you've just written.
- Revision is still important, especially if you are short-shrifting the rest of your process. If you are able to read through your work a few times, you will most likely pin-point some areas you want to expand, delete, reword, or rethink. You obviously will not be able to write three more full drafts, but you might have time to read through the paper three more times and make a few changes that will make your work all the stronger.