Words On Words

by Milli Ehringhaus


Stages of Writing a Research Paper as experienced by Students


You are aware of the deadlines from early on. You are aware of the workload. And you are confident in your capability to finish your work on time. Let’s be honest, if it really comes down to it, you surprise yourself every time when you manage to breeze through 3000 words a day, with a 5000 word deadline the next day. You consequently tell yourself that you have plenty of time, and are even ambitious enough to think to yourself – this time I will work ahead. So you arrange study groups with friends and meet for multiple coffees in a row in order to ‘Brainstorm’. In reality you gossip, plan your social and nightlife for the next upcoming weeks, and discuss how much work you have to do while doing nothing. You tell yourself you have more than enough time, and you deserve a night off. You go out – once, then twice, then fuck, it’s one week later.



At this stage, you are fully aware of the workload at hand. You know completely well that you should be working on the upcoming deadline. Instead, you ambitiously plan future travels, look for other study programs, or rock out to new tunes in front of your static computer. You expand your wardrobe via online portals, you expand your interests. You tell yourself that in order to be able to work productively, you need to finish your laundry and clean your apartment.




After several mini-break downs, fits of desperation, and potentially the occasional meeting with your tutor who gives you a plan and at least a little bit of reassurance, you tell yourself – I got this. The meeting with your tutors and classmates were helpful enough to get you to a point where you have some idea of what’s going on. You ambitiously wake up early the next day and head to your preferred study location. However, Maastricht remains Maastricht, and anywhere you go the opportunity for distraction lures you in like a small child is lured in with ice cream. Nonetheless, throughout your spurge of energy in regards to that deadline, you find yourself easily drifting off for a beer with friends, or a cheeky little doobie on the wall behind the library.




You walk up and down the halls of the library, desperate for any break you can get. However, in actuality, any break in the library – be it in the smoking area, where individuals are profusely sucking on their cancer-sticks in desperation, or in the cafeteria, where students munch on the pathetic excuse of a sandwich for a reload of energy – is not as much of a break as it is more a confirmation of anxiety. Any conversation or eye contact made with acquaintances or friends is kept short, in mutual desperation caused by an exceeding level of stress. You sit in the silent area, scrutinizing your keyboard, and giving filthy looks to anyone making the smallest sound. You pace back and forth in the lounge with your headphones on, trying to cram every last piece of information into your full brain cells. Yet it becomes difficult to not pack up your materials at dusk and call it a night after ten mostly unproductive hours at the library.




Shit is getting real. Yes, you are T-24 Hours to Paper Deadline. You have had multiple outbursts and breakdowns at this point, and the days of thinking you can manage your time successfully are but a dimmed light behind you in the distance. You cut off communication to your social media networks – It’s do, die, or re-sit. Now if you’ve already accepted the fact that a re-sit is your best option, congratulations. However, for those of us that already have two re-sits next period, its time to crack down. Word for word, sentence for sentence you check the overall word count (usually with the cover page and references included, because who checks that anyway?). And would you even be a student, if you didn’t upload your paper no more than ten minutes before the deadline?


Stay sane and strong fellow students. The end is approaching.

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