If those trips down to the demos in Westminster have left you behind schedule for your end-of-term assignment, you may well be forced to write in the small hours this week. Here's how to pull it off safely and successfully.
12am: Get as far away from your bed as possible
Before you begin, avoid warmth and soft furnishings. Propped up on pillows in the glow of a laptop may feel like savvy ergonomics, but your keyboard will start to look pillow-like by midnight, and 418 pages of the word "gf64444444444444444444" will detract from the force of your argument. You could try the kitchen. Or Krakow. But your industrially lit 24-hour campus library should do the trick.
12:25am: Take a catnap
Thomas Edison used to catnap through the night with a steel ball in his hand. As he relaxed and the ball dropped, he would wake up, usually with fresh ideas. "Caffeine and a short nap make a very effective combination," says Jim Horne, director of the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre. "Have the coffee first. This takes about 20 minutes to work, so take a 15-minute nap. Use an alarm to wake up and avoid deep sleep kicking in. Do this twice throughout the night."
12.56am: Reduce your internet options
Temporarily block Twitter, Spotify, Group Hug, YouTube, 4od and anything else that distracts you. Constantly updating your word count on Facebook may feel like fun, but to everyone else you'll look like you're constantly updating your word count on Facebook.
1-3am: Now write your essay. No, really
You've widened your margins, subtly enlarged your font and filled your bibliography with references of such profound obscurity that no one will notice you're missing 3,000 words. It's time to brainstorm, outline, carve words, followed by more words, into that milk-white oblivion that taunts you. Speed-read articles. Key-word Google Books. Remember texts you love and draw comparisons. Reword. Expound. Invent. Neologise. Get excited. Find a problem you can relish and keep writing. While others flit from point to point, your impassioned and meticulous analysis of a single contention is music to a marker's eyes.
3-5am: Get lost in your analysis, your characters, your world Write like you're trying to convince the most stubborn grammarian about truth, or heartless alien invaders about love. Don't overload with examples – be creative with the ones you have. Detail will save your life, but don't waste time perfecting sentences – get the bulk down first and clean up later. "The progress of any writer," said Ted Hughes, "is marked by those moments when he manages to outwit his own inner police system." Outwit your own inner police system. Expect progress. Ted says so.
5:01am: Don't cheat
It's about now that websites such as easyessay.co.uk will start to look tempting. And you may sleep easier knowing that a dubiously accredited Italian yoga instructor is writing about Joyce instead of you. But the guilt will keep you up between now and results day. And you'll toss and turn the night before graduation, job interviews, promotions, dinner parties, children's birthdays, family funerals . . . you get the idea.
5.17am: Don't die
Sounds obvious, but dying at your computer is definitely trending. And however uncool it may seem to "pass on" during a five-day stint at World of Warcraft, it will be much more embarrassing to die explaining perspectivism to no one in particular. So be careful. Stay hydrated. Blink occasionally. And keep writing.
5.45am: Eat something simple
"There are no foods that are particularly good at promoting alertness," says Horne. "But avoid heavy and fatty meals in the small hours. Avoid very sugary drinks that don't contain caffeine, too. Sugar is not very effective in combating sleepiness." Fun fact: an apple provides you with more energy than a cup of coffee. Now stick the kettle on.
5.46am: Delight in being a piece of living research
If you happen to be "fatigue resistant" you should now be enjoying the enhanced concentration, creative upwelling and euphoric oneness that sleep deprivation can bring. If not, try talking yourself into it. "Conversation keeps you awake," says Horne. "So talk to a friend or even to yourself – no one will hear you."
6am: Console yourself with lists of writers who stuck it out
Robert Frost was acquainted with the night. Dumas, Kafka, Dickens, Coleridge, Sartre, Poe and Breton night-walked and trance-wrote their way to literary distinction. John and Paul wrote A Hard Day's Night in the small hours. Herman the Recluse, atoning for broken monastic vows, is said to have written the Codex Gigas on 320 sheets of calfskin during a single night in 1229. True, he'd sold his soul to the Devil, but you're missing out on a live Twitter feed, so it's swings and roundabouts.
7am: Remember – art is never finished, only abandoned
Once you accept there's no more you can do, print it off and get to the submissions office quick. Horne: "You're not fit to drive if you've had less than five hours sleep, so don't risk it. Grab some exercise." Pop it in with the breeziness that comes from being top of your marker's pile. Back home, unblock Facebook and start buffering The Inbetweeners. And then sleep. Get as near to your bed as you can. Euphoric oneness doesn't come close.
Matt Shoard teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.
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Because we do Search Engine Optimization – we often have to talk about the differences between short and long-form content. 700 words have been an average blog post for a while, and 1,800 – 2,500 words has become the new number to strive for to keep people on the page longer and increase your search engine ranking. So what does 700 words look like? What do 2,500 words look like?
What do 700 words, 1,800 words, and 2,500 words look like– here are photos albeit zoomed-out.
We’re sharing a little bit of a visual indicator so you can be aware of how much needs to be written – whether you’re writing a search engine optimized article, or you’re writing a paper for school. This is single spaced in Microsoft Word, but it would likely by similar in Google docs if that’s your text editor of choice.
How many pages is 700 words, 1,800 words and 2,500 words in a Word document?
- 700 words is about 1.5 to 2 pages single spaced with a few titles mixed in (3 pages double-spaced)
- 1,800 words is about 3.5 to 4 pages single spaced with a few titles mixed in (7 pages double-spaced)
- 2,500 words is about 4.5 to 5 pages Single Spaced with a few titles mixed in (10 pages double-spaced)
So you have to write a long article or paper? How to do it:
Whether we’re talking 700 words, 1800 words, 2500 words or what have you – a long article or paper is not easy to just knock out in one go unless you’re very accustomed to writing in sprees. Use a couple key tactics to get up to these long lengths:
- Gather several resources for sources before you get down to writing
- Block out the key ideas without paying super close attention to precision at first
- Don’t hold back any valuable insights for later – give as much value, and share the best ideas in sub-headlines, bulleted lists, and support your main points with significant statistics, original research, and poignant personal stories.
- Allow yourself to create a “very rough – rough draft” first before getting too ‘in your head’ about specific details
- After you have a “very rough – rough draft” start going back and editing your writing for grammar, spelling and make sure that the ideas are cohesive and tied together by a line of thought, and key idea.
- Resolve the end of the article by re-capping the key idea and sum up the whole line of thought.
Yes, 1,800 words to 2,500 words are a lot of words, and not every article requires this kind of intensity (for instance, this is a resource post with much fewer that 1,800 words. However, if you’re trying to prove a contentious point or provide the “definitive” resource on a particular subject – all of that verbiage really does allow a lot of opportunities to support your key thought.
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