Hammering away at the keyboard of your laptop, you glance at the clock as it strikes one o’clock in your darling tie-dye tee paired with your cozy sweatpants. Every hour, minute, and second marks an instant closer to the impending deadline of your assignment. As your roommate rests peacefully, you realize that your sole companion is the indie music blaring from your iPod. Working hard all evening, you feel alone and exhausted, evident from the bags under your eyes along with the brightly-colored heap of empty Sour Patch Kids bags.

You deserve a break. Relaxation is an essential yet often overlooked component of the writing process. Not only does leisure time reduce stress and emotional buildup, but it also allows you time to fluidly develop your thoughts as well as create objectivity with your paper.

Because it can be a daunting and painstaking activity, writing a paper is in many ways similar to operating on a patient. As the writer, you are the surgeon. In turn, your composition is the patient. The surgeon must remain calm in order to appease the patient. If you are tired and stressed, your fatigue and frustration will be evident in your writing. Because your essay is the product of your emotional state, it is extremely vital that you remain replenished, restful, and composed throughout your writing process. By giving yourself time away from your paper, you will become calmer, happier, and more prepared to write.

Whether you realize it or not, you will provide your mind with the opportunity to think clearer, permitting it to rest and recuperate from those hours of intense concentration. In addition to peace of mind and clarity, impartiality will develop as you return to your essay with a new pair of eyes. This fresh look at your writing will provide you with the ability to strengthen your assertions, recognize ambiguous and awkward word choices, as well as correct grammatical errors. If a good surgeon would never operate on a patient when she is worn out, why would writing your paper be any different?

When you are incapable of focusing on your paper any longer, it is time for you to unwind. Several helpful ways in which you could relax include:

  1. Taking a twenty-minute nap or going to sleep if you are exhausted! A tired brain cannot write.
  2. Drinking a glass of water or a cup of hot tea. Chai, anyone?
  3. Speaking with a friend about a topic other than your assignment.
  4. Watching a favorite television show or movie, preferably a lighthearted comedy with a simple plot, depending on the amount of time you have until the deadline.
  5. Exercising. Working out is an amazingly effective way to blow off steam. Try lacing up your sneakers and jogging on a treadmill for thirty minutes or watching the latest yoga instructional video with those tricky poses you have been dying to try.
Although as a Writing Center tutor I do not encourage pulling an all-nighter, if it becomes your last resort, I would suggest completing your paper in a space with other students to keep you company. Notably during finals week, a number of students can be found in the Center for Writing and Speaking (CWS) engaging in an assortment of activities from working on their essays to revamping their Facebook profile pages. Nevertheless, with any luck, you will prevent this vexing episode by visiting the CWS sooner rather than later. When you feel your eyes blurring or shedding a tear, come up for air and take a deep breath. Good luck and happy writing!


Dani Adamson is a sophomore and a tutor at the Agnes Scott College Writing Center.



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