How to Write an Essay Fast: Solutions for Procrastination

Updated on November 4, 2015

Breaking Through Writer's Block

Have you been procrastinating? Is your paper due in less than 24 hours? Do not panic. While you should have managed your time more wisely, there is still a way to finish your paper in time and get the grade you deserve. This article will help you write an essay as quickly as possible. Just follow the seven steps below.

1. Read

Before starting your essay, you have to read the related text(s) or source(s). If you do not have time to read the entire text, you can do one of the following:

  • read a summary/analysis of the text(s),
  • read an analysis of the text(s),
  • look up and collect relevant and important quotes from the text(s).

Note: While you speed read or quickly search for quotes, make sure to never “steal” or copy word-for-word ideas from another writer.

Q: What is the five-consecutive-word plagiarism rule?

A: If you copy five or more consecutive words from someone else's writing, then you must cite them as a quotation. Otherwise, you are guilty of plagiarism.

2. Collect

While you read, either underline or copy and paste the quotes or passages that you feel are important. Make sure to add quotation marks and cite your sources properly before adding your own commentary. This will save time later when you write the original text of your essay.

3. Form a Thesis

Use the quotes you collected to form a thesis statement. The thesis is the main point your paper will prove. It is a specific and focused declaration of what you notice, believe, or deduce about the subject. Your thesis makes an assertion: the quotes will be your evidence.

Note: Your thesis statement should be a sentence or two long. Do not write your thesis paragraph yet. You do not have enough information to do this until you have written the body and conclusion of your essay.

4. Write Topic Sentences

Once you come up with your thesis statement, list at least three points that back it up. (You may make up to ten points depending on the length requirement of your essay.) Each point should have at least one quote that supports it.

Take the points you listed and construct complete sentences out of them. (For example, if your thesis is “Jimmy’s father is mad at him,” and one of your supporting points is “Dad grounded Jimmy,” you will want to reword it so that it acts as a topic sentence: “One indicator that Jimmy’s father is angry with him is that he grounded Jimmy in Chapter Three.”) Once you have all of your points in complete sentences, type them onto your word processor and rearrange them so that they are cohesive, pushing your argument further.

5. Rearrange

Paste your topic sentences in order with the relevant, supporting quote(s) underneath. You will begin to see the structure of your essay form on the page(s). After you have arranged all of your quotes and topic sentences, you may have formed a conclusion. If so, write the concluding paragraph now. If you are still unsure about the conclusion, continue to the next step and write it after that.

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”

― E.M. Forster

6. Add Your Own Words

Now that you have the main idea and structure of your essay, you will want to start adding original sentences to your paper. Start with the body of the essay. Explain and discuss your topic sentence in your own words and explain clearly how each quote supports that topic sentence. Keep explaining and expanding your thoughts until each paragraph has 3-5 sentences.

Once you have done this, it is time to write your concluding paragraph (if you haven’t done so already) and your thesis paragraph. After you finish these, you will see that you have constructed an essay.

7. Edit

You aren’t done yet. You will need to edit this essay (especially if you wrote it quickly). Editing shouldn’t take too long unless you had trouble with the other steps. Read your paper all of the way through and fix any grammatical errors. Think about the words you chose and if there are other more precise or descriptive words you might use in their place. Clarify your explanations and expand them where you need to. Make sure your paper flows smoothly from one thought to the next and if you have time, have someone else read it for clarity.

How to Stop Procrastinating and Write that Paper!

Remove all distractions.
Turn off your phone. Put out a "do not disturb" sign. Lock your door. Disable Wi-Fi. Stuff earplugs in your ears. Eliminate all your regular procrastination pit-stops and time-sucks. Do whatever it takes to make sure you won't be interrupted.
Hang out with inspiring people.
The people you're with influence your behavior and attitude, so choose wisely. Identify which people inspire you to do your best and hang out with them more often.
Make a to-do list.
Make a list of the steps you will need to take to finish the task. Break each large task into small, bite-sized pieces (like the list above, for example) and post somewhere visible.
Set strict deadlines.
Next to each item on your to-do list, set a specific time and date of completion. Remember that this deadline is not a suggestion, it's an order. Write it in blood-red pen if you have to.
Find the perfect environment.
Find the ideal comfortable and distraction-free spot and park yourself there until you have finished your task.
Tell yourself you are not allowed to move until you're done. Remind yourself that each list item is a small task and it won't take long. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, focus on how good you'll feel when you've done it.
Reward yourself.
Every time you finish one of the items on your to-do list, reward yourself with some kind of treat. When you've finished the paper, have a little celebration.


You have just written an essay in record time. Good luck with your assignment and maybe next time, you will start your essay a little earlier!

Need More Help?

For additional help, please read my other article, “How to Write an A+ English Paper.”

Questions & Answers


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      • Raine Law Yuen profile image

        Raine Law Yuen 2 years ago from Cape Town

        Thanks for this very informative article. I have read a number of your posts.

        Judging from the feedback, I gather you wrote this some time ago. Goes to show that a well written informative article does stay forever green.

      • akader profile image

        Kader 4 years ago from Algeria

        it s very helpful I love it

      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 5 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        Clare, I am so glad this article was helpful to you! Just make sure to do a little a day and the task won't seem so daunting. Good luck and thanks again for the compliment!

      • profile image

        Clare 5 years ago

        Thank you!

        I am a terrible procrastinator and this was very very helpful for me. The video link at the end has some good ideas, hopefully I can put them to use next time and avoid the last minute rush!

      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        Thank you so much, stars!

      • stars439 profile image

        stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

        Wonderful hub dear heart, and I must become your fan. Thank you for the continuing education in the wonderful joy of writing. God Bless you.

      • christianajohan profile image

        christianajohan 6 years ago

        Hey there! This is a good hub about writing. But you missed to include planning. So how do you plan your writing?

        I have a short hub about this on how to plan your writing.

      • barryrutherford profile image

        Barry Rutherford 6 years ago from Queensland Australia

        great useful information. i also find listening to classical music puts me into the right mindset zone to write...

      • cebutouristspot profile image

        cebutouristspot 6 years ago from Cebu

        My dad always said am a Procrastinator. This is a great tip that can be work out to be a guide in life in general. Thanks for sharing

      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        Thank you, Riley! This is definitely not a hub encouraging procrastination, but gives a solution for times when it's too late.

      • Chasing Riley profile image

        Chasing Riley 6 years ago from Los Angeles

        I love this and am definitely passing it on to my high school son. I think we all have procrastinated but I like that you show the way out! Voted up!

      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        Thank you, Derdrie! This is definitely a hub for those that do not have time for the normal way of writing a paper. Hopefully it will help out those who have already procrastinated, but encourage them to take more time on their essay in the future. Thanks again! - Britt

      • profile image

        Derdriu 6 years ago

        BrittanyTodd: What a clear, logical, practical summary of the last bell effort to submit an "A" paper in 24 hours! It is most impressive the way in which you jump right into the helpful advice and specific details. You do not waste time guilt-tripping so there is a strong chance that your readers will learn from the tips, get their "A," and be more organized the next time. Part of procrastination can be the absence of a readily adaptable role model.

        Thank you, voted up, etc.,


      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        Thank you, Epi. I never thought about myself as a "writer's writer" before, but I like it. I'm glad you learned something from this piece. Thank you again for your kind words.

      • epigramman profile image

        epigramman 6 years ago

        ..well we can all learn from one another - I try to learn a new word or concept or idea every day - the key is to have an open mind and a good attitude - and you my friend are what I would call a writer's writer - I can see/read it throughout your hub subjects - I am learning from you - and it's all very inspiring - thank you for what you do and the passion and intelligence in your words and writing lake erie time ontario canada 6:51am

        just arrived home from night shift to high winds by the lake and winter on the doorstep and two well fed pussycats

      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        Thank you, Chin Chin. I hope it comes in handy!

      • Chin chin profile image

        Chin chin 6 years ago from Philippines

        This is a helpful read. I like reading books but sometimes I just skim through the pages to have an overview and see if it's interesting enough to read everything. Am bookmarking this.

      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        I agree, homestead. Thanks for reading/sharing.

      • homesteadbound profile image

        Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

        Unfortunately, I don't think they teach thinking skills so much anymore. At least they don't seem to where I live. If you are a procrastinator, you will have to learn quickly to think on your feet or quit procrastinating. Otherwise, you will never survive in that environment. This is a great way to write a paper. I will have to share this with some of my younger friends who are going to college.

      • brittanytodd profile image

        Brittany Kennedy 6 years ago from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

        I totally agree. Thanks for reading. I did find some people that were unable to use this method because of their lack of critical thinking skills, but hopefully they aren't the ones procrastinating. Thank you so much for reading/visiting my page.

      • Rising Caren profile image

        Rising Caren 6 years ago from New York

        That sounds similar to my technique.

        Assuming it's an essay that requires reading

        1) Skim through reading, focusing largely on opening and ending sentences of each paragraph so I have a general idea of what to talk about.

        2) Decide on a topic. Think of a few points that might make a good outline.

        3) Write entire essay from introduction to conclusion using own words based on previous mental outline.

        4) Find quotes that somehow relate to what was spoken

        5) Elaborate on quotes to further analyze on current content

        6) Use online citation generator for bibliography

        Using this method, which is just a slightly different version of yours without editing, I can often write an A or B+ paper in only 1 or 2 hours (including the skimmed reading). I once wrote a 7 page paper on a book I never read - only skimmed it as I was writing the paper - in only 2 hours and got an A.

        Unfortunately, a lot of people who know these methods still cannot do as it requires the writer to be able to make quick connections between quotes and readings. I've had classmates for whom I tried to help them write an essay in this way, but they didn't have the critical thinking skills needed to make connections just like that and therefore could never get passed the topic sentence stage without feeling overwhelmed.

        I've noticed some of the best speed essay writers I've met are very good at logical things such as [hard] sudoku puzzles.