Master Speedy Writing: Unveiling Tips on How to Write a Paper Fast

Dominic Zijlstra
Dominic Zijlstra
Publish date
Jul 27, 2023


The clock is ticking. Your deadline is fast approaching. Your mind races as you scramble to put words onto the page. Welcome to the world of speedy writing - a vital skill in today's fast-paced academic and professional landscape. But fear not, the ability to write a paper quickly is not a superpower reserved only for seasoned writers. With the right tactics and a structured approach, anyone can master this essential skill.
Writing a paper quickly doesn't mean compromising on its quality. It's about efficiently structuring your thoughts, conducting research, and crafting your arguments in a way that not only meets the deadline but also ensures the paper is insightful and well-written. This isn't about cutting corners, but rather, learning to work smarter and more effectively.
In this article, we'll unveil a series of steps that can help transform your writing process. These steps are not just random tips, but strategies, borrowed from a combination of cognitive science, expert advice from college tutors at College Info Geek, and practical techniques used by successful students. We will explore the importance of understanding your assignment, conducting efficient research, creating a solid outline, and crafting the perfect writing environment. Moreover, we will delve into the art of drafting and editing, the power of peer review, and the necessity of using tools like citation generators. We'll also examine the importance of writing your introduction and conclusion last, and the value of focusing on quality over quantity.
So, whether you're a student racing against a term paper deadline or a professional trying to deliver a report in record time, these steps offer a roadmap to writing success. Get ready to transform the way you write, one fast-paced word at a time. Remember, every minute counts. Let's dive in!

Understanding the Assignment

Accelerate your writing by first fueling up on clarity. The pitfall many fall into when aiming to write a paper fast is diving headfirst without fully understanding the assignment. This is akin to a race car driver zooming off before the flag is waved, thereby missing the track altogether. Avoid this time-wasting detour by ensuring you comprehend the task at hand. This is not a sign of incompetence but a smart strategy to ensure your efforts align with the expected outcomes.
Embarking on an assignment without understanding it is like setting sail in a storm; you're bound to lose direction. Regardless of how eloquently you articulate your points or the depth of research conducted, if it doesn't answer the question, it's bound to be a washout. As an English Teaching Assistant in college, I observed that students often spent hours crafting papers on unrelated topics, resulting in low grades despite their efforts.
To avoid this, don't hesitate to seek clarification on any aspect of the assignment that you're unclear about. Professors are experts in their field and sometimes, what seems obvious to them might not be so for the students. Asking for clarification doesn't make you appear unwise, instead, it reflects your commitment to delivering a quality paper that meets the professor's expectations.
Once you have a clear understanding of the assignment, the next step is to organize the different pieces of information you will need. This process involves identifying the main ideas of the topic you're about to study, understanding the relationships between these ideas, and branching out further to find sub-ideas within each main idea. This is akin to preparing your brain to absorb new information like an athlete visualizing their jump before actually starting to run.
The goal here is to create a mental roadmap that will guide you through the writing process. This involves connecting your prior knowledge and experiences with the new information, asking questions, and attempting to solve some practice problems related to the topic before you have all the necessary information. This approach, called generative learning, allows you to build mental models out of information, making it meaningful and memorable, thus making the writing process faster and more efficient.
Remember, the faster car isn't always the one that wins the race, but the one that knows where it's going. Fully understanding the assignment before you start is the key to writing a high-quality paper quickly and efficiently.

Choosing a Topic

Whirling in the tempest of ideas, choosing a topic for a research paper can be as challenging as writing the paper itself. The key to successfully navigating this storm is a bit of method to the madness, which starts with brainstorming and ends with an interesting, manageable topic.

Unleashing the Power of Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a powerful technique to kickstart the topic selection process. This is when you should allow your mind to freely roam across the landscape of your knowledge, picking up ideas that resonate with your curiosity. Remember, at this point, there are no bad ideas. The more possibilities you explore, the closer you inch towards that 'AHA-moment' when you find something that truly piques your interest.
Keep a record of all your ideas, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. These might be the seedlings of potential research questions that you can cultivate into a full-fledged thesis. As you jot down your ideas, look for patterns or recurring themes. These could provide clues to a topic that you're genuinely curious about.

Picking the Perfect Topic

Once you have a pool of ideas, it's time to choose your topic. The ideal topic would be something you understand well enough to interpret the research around it. However, before you decide, perform a simple online search to check the availability of content on the topic. It's crucial to choose a subject that has ample research material available to back up your argument.
Moreover, the topic should be manageable, meaning it should be narrow enough to cover within the confines of your paper, yet broad enough to provide substantial information. Choosing a broad topic might make your paper seem unfocused, while a very narrow one may not provide enough material for discussion.
Lastly, remember to choose a topic that interests you. Writing a research paper is an immersive process. If the topic engages you, it will keep the cognitive load high, making your learning faster and the writing process more enjoyable.
Choosing a topic is the first step towards a successful research paper. With effective brainstorming and a careful selection process, you can pick a topic that not only meets the academic requirements but also sparks your intellectual curiosity. Now, you're ready to dive into the world of research and argumentation. Strap on your diving gear and plunge into the depths of knowledge.

Performing Research

Time is ticking, your deadline is looming, and you're still at the first step of writing your paper—research. Breathe. Performing research, especially under time constraints, is a daunting task, but with the right approach, you can transform it into an exciting exploration. Your research phase doesn't have to be a panic-filled, last-minute scramble.

Evaluating the Validity of Sources

The first step to efficient research is to establish the credibility of your sources. The internet is a veritable treasure trove of information, but not all that glitters is gold. Be wary of crowdsourced platforms, such as Wikipedia, as this information can be edited by anyone and may lack scholarly rigor. Instead, lean on authoritative resources that maintain stringent standards for their content.

Utilizing Digital Encyclopedias, Scholarly Databases, and Trustworthy Publications

Digital encyclopedias and scholarly databases are goldmines of information for any research paper. They provide peer-reviewed, authoritative content that adds credibility to your paper. Make use of databases like JSTOR or EBSCO, which are teeming with academic papers, articles, and reports on a plethora of subjects.
Trustworthy publications like TIME magazine and the New York Times also serve as excellent sources. They offer in-depth articles on a wide range of topics, written by experts in their respective fields. In addition, their journalistic standards ensure the information they provide is accurate and reliable.

Making Use of Online Sources When the Library is Not Accessible

In an ideal world, you would have all the time to amble around your university library, rummaging through stacks of books. But when you're racing against time, you need quicker alternatives. Fortunately, the digital age has made a wealth of resources available online.
Many libraries offer access to their digital collections, so you might be able to peruse e-books and electronic versions of academic journals right from your home. Websites like Google Scholar and ResearchGate can also provide a wealth of scholarly articles, theses, books, and conference papers.
Remember, the goal of your research is not just to gather information, but to understand and absorb it. As you review your sources, engage in active recall, a method that requires your brain to work actively to remember information. This practice strengthens neural connections, making it easier for you to recall information later.
When it comes to speedy writing, effective research is half the battle. With the right resources, techniques, and a dash of diligence, you can supercharge your research process and accelerate your writing speed. After all, the faster you gather your supporting evidence, the sooner you can dive into crafting your compelling argument. Now, ready, set, research!

Writing Your Thesis

Imagine you're setting out on a journey. You wouldn't start without a destination in mind, right? The same applies when you're writing a paper. Your thesis statement is your destination. It provides a roadmap for your research and gives your readers a clear understanding of what they're about to explore. But, how do you craft a strong and clear thesis statement?
Your thesis statement should appear in the introduction of your paper, right after a compelling hook that draws your readers in. It's the one sentence that encapsulates the crux of your argument. It’s the linchpin holding your entire paper together.
Now, let's move on to the formula for writing a strong thesis statement. If you've been wondering how to craft a thesis that packs a punch, here's a simple and formulaic way: “By examining (argument 1), (argument 2), and (argument 3), it is clear that (statement you will prove).” This composition provides a clear pathway for your paper to follow and keeps your writing focused.
However, crafting a thesis statement isn't just about following a formula. You need to ensure it's strong and effective. How do you do that? Ask yourself these questions:
  1. Is it in the introduction?
  1. Does it answer the question from the prompt?
  1. Can others argue against my thesis?
  1. Is it going to prove a single claim?
  1. Does it answer something meaningful?
If your thesis statement meets all these criteria, then you've got yourself a strong foundation for your paper. Remember, the success of your paper hinges heavily on the strength of your thesis statement. So, take the time to craft it carefully. After all, a well-defined destination makes for a smooth and successful journey. Now, you're all set to write your paper rapidly and effectively!

Outlining Your Paper

Unearth your creative prowess and embark on a mission to craft a compelling research paper with a solid outline as your map. Outlining is not a one-size-fits-all process; it's an art that comes in various forms, each with its unique charm and efficiency. From the traditional hierarchical outlines to the modern, more flexible flat outlines, the choice is yours.
A hierarchical outline is the classic method taught in schools. It involves creating a hierarchy of points with subpoints, each designated by a mix of numbers and letters. While this method can provide a detailed structure, it may limit creativity and adaptability.
In contrast, a flat outline dismisses the rigidity of subpoints and hierarchies, favoring a list of topics you plan to discuss in your paper. It's an unconventional yet highly effective approach that mirrors the writing process, allowing you to explore and discover your arguments as you write.
Here's how to create a flat outline, as explained by Cal Newport. Start by listing the topics you want to tackle in the order you want to discuss them. Then, revisit your research and allocate relevant sources under each topic. This method will help you identify any gaps in your research, prompting you to seek out additional sources if necessary. Next, you transform your topic-level outline into your paper, ensuring your thesis statement sits at the top as your guiding star.
Organizing your topics and supporting research in a logical flow is crucial in maintaining coherence in your paper. It's like creating a journey where each topic seamlessly transitions into the next, guided by your thesis statement. Remember, your outline is the backbone of your paper; it should support your argument and guide your writing process. So, delve into the art of outlining and watch as your research paper takes shape with speed and efficiency.

The Body/Introduction and Conclusion

A blank page can be the most intimidating obstacle for any writer, especially when you're under pressure to write a paper fast. Whether you're writing an essay, a research paper, or a simple report, determining where to start can be a daunting task. It's like trying to assemble a puzzle without seeing the picture on the box. But fear not! There are proven structures and strategies that can guide you through this process.

Choosing the Order of Writing

The journey of writing a paper doesn't always have to start with the introduction. In fact, some of the most successful writers prefer to tackle the body of the paper first, leaving the introduction and conclusion for the end. This approach allows you to fully flesh out your arguments or points in the body, and then craft an introduction and conclusion that accurately reflect the content of your paper. This way, you avoid the common pitfall of an introduction that doesn't quite match up with the rest of the paper.

The Structure of Your Paper

Whether you choose to write the body first or start with the introduction, it's essential to understand the basic structure of a paper. Your introduction should include a hook sentence to grab the reader's attention, followed by your thesis statement, and a 'menu' sentence that outlines what you will discuss in the body of your paper.
Each body paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence and include supporting evidence and sources to back up your argument. Think of each paragraph as a mini-argument that supports your overall thesis.
The conclusion is your chance to reiterate your thesis and the key points of your argument in fresh words. Aim to end with a strong and memorable sentence that leaves a lasting impression on your reader.

Crafting Compelling Introductions and Conclusions

The introduction and conclusion are like the bookends of your paper. They hold everything together and give the first and final impressions to your reader. Therefore, they should be engaging and memorable.
A compelling hook in your introduction could be a shocking statistic, a provocative question, or a bold statement that relates to your topic. This will engage your reader and encourage them to keep reading.
Your conclusion, on the other hand, should leave your reader with something to think about. This could be a call to action, a prediction, or a thought-provoking question that relates to your topic.
Remember, writing a paper doesn't have to be a daunting task. With the right approach and structure in mind, you can master the art of speedy writing, crafting a compelling paper in no time.

Citing Sources

Right off the bat, imagine writing a fantastic research paper only to have it discredited because you didn't cite your sources properly. The credibility of your work hinges on the sources you use and how accurately you cite them. As an essential component of any research paper, citations breathe life into your arguments, offering concrete evidence to back up your claims.
Citing sources in a research paper is not just a matter of academic integrity but also a testament to thorough and meticulous research. In essence, every claim or piece of information that isn't common knowledge should be credited to its source. This gives your paper an undeniable layer of authenticity and credibility, helping you avoid the dreaded accusation of plagiarism.
Now, the world of citation isn't a wild west; there's a clear order and structure to it. Depending on your professor’s preferences or the field of study, you will encounter different citation formats, namely APA, MLA, and Chicago. While they may seem like complicated codes at first, they're just specific ways to organize and format your citations. For instance, APA (American Psychological Association) is often used in social sciences, while MLA (Modern Language Association) is typically used in humanities, and Chicago style is widely used in business, history, and fine arts.
In a world of digital convenience, you have the luxury of citation generators like Zotero and EasyBib to help alleviate the stress of citing each source manually. However, these tools aren't perfect, especially with digital sources, so a quick review of your citations before submission can save you from minor errors that could compromise your paper's credibility.
In the end, citing sources is akin to giving credit where credit is due. It's a respectful nod to the scholars and researchers whose work has contributed to your research, showing an appreciation for their efforts while also bolstering your own work with their expertise. So, while it may seem like a chore, citing sources is indeed a fundamental aspect of writing a speedy yet compelling research paper.

Proofread, Revise, and Edit

Ever heard the saying, "The devil is in the details"? This is particularly true when it comes to writing a paper. The final, and perhaps most crucial, stage in the art of speedy writing is proofreading, revising, and editing your work. No matter how fast you've managed to churn out your paper, it won't make the grade if it's riddled with errors or brimming with unoriginal content.
A thorough proofreading and editing process is a non-negotiable step in writing a top-notch paper. It's not just about catching typos or grammatical mistakes. It's about fine-tuning your argument, ensuring your research is accurately represented, and polishing your prose until it shines. This stage is where your paper transforms from a rough draft into a polished masterpiece.
One fail-safe method to catch errors is to use word processing tools. These digital aides can help identify spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and awkward sentence structures that are easy to overlook. However, don't solely rely on them. Remember, they're just tools and can't replace a careful human eye.
In addition to using digital tools, adopt the old-school approach of reading your paper out loud. This method works wonders in catching errors that your eyes might have skipped. When you read your text aloud, you're more likely to notice awkward phrasing, run-on sentences, and ideas that don't flow as smoothly as you'd like.
Furthermore, don't underestimate the power of a second pair of eyes. If you can, ask a friend or peer to read over your paper. This fresh perspective can help you spot errors or inconsistencies that you might have missed. It's like having your own personal editor on hand!
To sum up, proofreading, revising, and editing are essential steps in delivering a high-quality paper. So, don't rush through them. Take your time to polish your paper and make it the best it can be. After all, your writing represents you, so make sure it's as flawless as possible.

Finding and Removing Plagiarism

Completing a paper in record time can be exhilarating. However, the adrenaline rush can often lead to accidental plagiarism. To avoid this pitfall, it is crucial to find and remove any unintentional plagiarism in your paper. This doesn't just protect your academic integrity; it also ensures your work is genuinely your own.
The first step is to use a plagiarism checker tool. This software will scan your paper and highlight any sections that are similar to already published material. If the tool flags any content, examine it carefully. Did you forget to cite a source? Did you unintentionally use someone's work verbatim instead of paraphrasing? Address these issues promptly to avoid any plagiarism charges.
If your plagiarism checker does identify some plagiarized parts, don't panic. It's not the end of the world. You can either remove these sections or properly credit the original source. Remember, citation is not just about avoiding plagiarism; it's about acknowledging the contributions of other scholars. So, make sure to cite your sources in the required format, whether it's APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.
Finally, seek a second pair of eyes. Even the most thorough self-check might miss something, and this is where a friend or peer comes in handy. Ask them to read your paper, not just for grammar and spelling mistakes, but also for any sections that might seem suspiciously similar to other sources. Their fresh perspective could catch potential plagiarism you might have overlooked.
Remember, writing a paper fast doesn't give you a free pass for plagiarism. Make sure to allocate time for this crucial step in your speedy writing process. By doing so, you'll ensure your paper is not only completed in a jiffy but also maintains the highest standards of academic honesty.

Find a Good Writing Environment

Speedy writing isn't just about the rapid flurry of your fingers on the keyboard; it's an art that requires the perfect ambiance. The environment you choose to write in plays a significant role in how quickly and efficiently you can churn out your work. Here are some key factors to consider when setting up your ideal writing environment.

The Power of Silence: A Distraction-Free Zone

A distraction-free environment is the first step towards effective speedy writing. The constant ping of notifications, the allure of social media, or even the subtle hum of a bustling café can often derail your train of thought. Choose a quiet and interruption-free setting to keep your focus razor-sharp. It's not just about physical noise, but digital distractions too. From turning off your phone to using apps like Freedom or SelfControl to block distracting sites, taking steps to cut digital noise can substantially increase your productivity.

Comfort and Lighting: The Unsung Heroes

Remember, your mind thrives when your body is comfortable. A well-lit room with a cozy chair that doesn't make you shift every few minutes can significantly impact your writing speed. Good lighting is essential to avoid straining your eyes, especially if you're pulling a long writing session.

The Studious Retreat: Libraries and Study Lounges

If you're someone who thrives in an academic atmosphere, consider heading to a library or study lounge. These places are designed for focus and productivity, with the added bonus of resources at your fingertips. They are usually quiet, well-lit, and can help you get into the 'serious work' mindset faster.

Organization: Your Secret Weapon

Clutter can be a silent killer of productivity. Having a clean workspace with only the necessary supplies at hand can help you stay focused and limit distractions. This includes your computer, necessary books, a notepad, and a pen for jotting down any sudden ideas. Don't forget a bottle of water to stay hydrated! Organization isn't just physical; a well-structured outline for your paper can be a lifeline, guiding you smoothly from one point to the next.
In the race against the clock, finding the perfect writing environment is half the battle. Tailor your workspace to meet your needs, and watch your writing speed soar to new heights.

Tips to Avoid Procrastination

Imagine yourself sailing smoothly through your academic journey, free from the shackles of last-minute panic and stress. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it doesn't have to be. Tackling procrastination is the first step towards mastering the art of speedy writing and producing quality research papers. Here are some practical strategies that can help you banish procrastination and enhance your writing efficiency.

Start Early to Pave the Way for Comprehensive Research

Starting early is your golden ticket to stress-free research and writing. Once you're handed the assignment, dive right in. Start brainstorming ideas, jot down preliminary points, and hit the library or the internet to gather supporting research. This approach not only gives you ample time to write but also allows you to delve deeper into the subject, thereby improving the quality of your paper. Remember, research is the backbone of any academic paper, so don't rush it. Be efficient, but also be thorough. For instance, as a rule of thumb, don't spend more than 30 minutes per page of the final paper researching.

Outline First and Take Breaks for a Fresh Perspective

Outlining your paper right at the onset can make the actual writing part a breeze. It helps you structure your thoughts, ensuring a logical flow of ideas throughout your paper. Moreover, if you start early and have a detailed outline in place, you can afford to take breaks. Taking breaks can rejuvenate your mind, allowing you to revisit your work with a fresh perspective. You may even spot gaps in your argument or areas of improvement that you missed earlier.

Seek Help From Peers, Professors, and Online Communities

Never hesitate to ask for help. If you're stuck or unsure about something, reach out to your peers, professors, or even online communities. They can provide valuable insights, feedback, and suggestions that can significantly enhance your paper. Plus, if you finish your paper early, you can ask someone else to proofread and edit it, helping you spot any overlooked errors or inconsistencies.
In conclusion, procrastination is a formidable enemy of productivity, but it's not invincible. With the right strategies and a proactive approach, you can outsmart procrastination, master the art of speedy writing, and produce top-notch research papers. Time to bid farewell to last-minute panic and welcome efficient, stress-free writing!


The race against time is a common theme in the life of students and professionals alike, yet with the right strategies, you can turn this race into a fulfilling journey. To write a paper swiftly, remember to start early, create an outline, take breaks, and don't hesitate to ask for help when you need it. These steps not only ensure a fast writing process but also guarantee the quality of your work.
Staying calm and focused is the secret ingredient in this recipe. Remember, haste makes waste. An agitated mind is less likely to produce coherent and well-articulated thoughts. So, even when you're on a tight deadline, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and start with a clear mind.
Writing a paper at the last minute can indeed be a daunting task, but it also comes with some unexpected benefits. It forces you to be efficient, to prioritize, and to focus intently on the task at hand. It also provides a unique opportunity to learn how to work under pressure, a skill that will be valuable throughout your academic and professional life.
In the end, remember that every challenge is an opportunity for growth. Writing a paper fast might seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and mindset, it could just be the catalyst that propels your writing skills to new heights.
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