Ten easy steps to a terminal ulcer, err, polished paper

Ed De La Garza

When I'm faced with a rapidly approaching paper deadline, I go through the same routine: I wait until midnight the day it's due.

I always mean to start early so I can get more than 30 minutes of sleep, but each time, there I am with a two-liter Dr. Pepper and a carton of cancer sticks next to me as I frantically try to fill four pages with something profound that'll make me sound like I know what I'm talking about.

So far, this method has garnered me mostly Bs, some As and the rare C. Oh sure, a little extra effort could give me As, but why mess with a good thing? I can't work unless I'm under pressure.

So for those of you asking "Ed, I, too, would like to use your half-assed approach to paper writing. Where can I find it?" Well, I won't sell it to you, but I will give it to you. Here are the "10 Steps to a half-assed paper."

1. Begin at least three days in advance. The longer you wait to goof off, the more time you take away from the actual paper.

2. Take out your assignment sheet and read it carefully. Once you know what you're going to write about, you can sleep easy that night.

3. Take out the assignment sheet again and keep telling yourself it doesn't seem like a hard paper to write. There's no reason to overdo it.

4. The paper's due tomorrow. Now that there's pressure on you, ideas just pour out. Make a brief outline. You don't have to stick to it, but now that you've actually written something, you can take a break.

5. Now that it's midnight, you can get down to business. Make sure your caffeine products are where you can reach them. If possible, set up an IV to pump coffee directly into your veins. Falling asleep while typing leaves you with words like "thxfg;mm." Waking up in the middle of a sentence leaves you completely lost.

6. Get out your dictionary and the, uhmm, you know, the blue book that's always next to the Webster's that gives you different words you can use instead of repeating the same ones over and over. Professors hate the word "interesting." Use "intriguing" or "engrossing."

7. If the assignment calls for seven pages, think of page seven as a free-form page. Use sharp, rapier-like wit in your conclusion. If nothing else, it distracts the professor from the paper's lack of substance.

I once filled an entire page of a research project with reasons why I hated research papers. I'd like to thank Dr. Rothman for not holding that against me. By the way, if you have a chance to take a course taught by Dr. Rothman, do it, despite the research assignment.

8. Now it is time to write your bibliography. If you're missing a source, make it up. Maynard Mack wrote just about all of my sources last year. He's quite prolific.

9. Now that you're done, take a close look at your paper. If you haven't made any mistakes a little white-out won't fix, that's your final (and only) draft.

10. Get your hour of sleep. You've earned it.

With this helpful guide, you'll be well on your way to feeling satisfied with anything over a C.

De La Garza is a junior political science major who's still a junior for a reason.

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