Kiosk Guides for Learning

A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all
Rita Mae Brown
1944 - American author

Writing series

Writing under deadline

Don't panic: organize!

Whether you are meeting a publication deadline, over-booked, or procrastinating

Step 1: Get in the zone

  • Think about it
    Mentally organize and think about developing your "story"
    Turn off the cell phone when driving, walking, waiting, etc.
  • Keep a notebook to jot down
    thoughts on development and good phrases
  • Talk about the topic
    Your approach can benefit from having a live person react to your "story" or project
    If the feedback is unclear, ask for clarification
    Don't get defensive, don't argue--make a note and move on
    (you don't have time to debate: it's a writing project!)
  • Designate a distraction-free area to help you write
  • Organize all you will need
    to avoid hunting and disrupting your process
  • Make a rough schedule working backwards from the deadline
    Highlight major steps: due date, revision, draft, workspace organization, resource and information gathering
    If dependent on others, make your timeframe clear

Step 2: Write
It's as simple as that

  • Don't interrupt your writing process to edit or research
    Avoid over-working a problem area and leave it to the revision
    Don't get distracted by minor points--keep focus on the whole
  • Draw up a quick outline or concept map
  • Write out your thesis to be developed
    Specific and suitable to the assignment
  • Introduce your topic sentence in the first paragraph
    Build it up with basic, relevant facts and context: who, what, when, where, why, how
    Appeal to and involve your readers
  • Development:
    Anchor your paper and each paragraph with a topic sentence. Revise later.
  • As you write, note in bold, or color what you are unsure of
    Revisit all comments when you revise
  • Keep the "navigation" clear
    In the introduction, tell your audience what you are going to do,
    then do it


  • Take the place of your editor or teacher: critique your own writing.
    Treat your assignment as someone else's product for review
  • Spell check.
    Use search function to find words you overuse
  • Print and read your project aloud
    Printed text is easier to edit.
    Does it sound right?
    Highlight problem areas to revise after you finish.
    (If you run out of breath reading a sentence, it is probably too long)
  • Review sentences:
    Focus on one idea in each
    Short, focused sentences are clearer and reduce the need for commas
    Ideal structure: subject - verb - object.
    Avoid too many prepositional phrases
    Convert negatives to positives
  • Keep your voice active and verbs strong
    Control/limit your vocabulary
    Beware acronyms, slang, jargon
    Special vocabulary should be kept limited, introduced early, defined, used consistently
  • Limit the use of numbers in each sentence
    Double check numbers!
  • Add graphics, illustrations, etc. with captions.
    Visual information should reinforce verbal information, and vice versa
Writing assignments

Writing for the "Web" | The five-paragraph essay | Essays for a literature class | Expository essays | Persuasive essays | Position papers | Open book exams | Essay Exams | White papers | Lab reports/scientific papers | Research proposals | Elements of a Research Paper | Seven stages of writing assignments | "Lessons learned" | Deadlines