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By Chloe M. Brown

SAN ANTONIO—The most daunting thing is looking at an empty document knowing that it somehow has to turn into a five-page essay with cited sources and thoughtful insight. Often you’re thinking that after taking 18 hours that the only thoughtful insight you have is that you read the book and kind of understood the concept.

That’s the hard part of it all. Being insightful when you are trying, so the first thing to do is take a deep breath. Breathe deeply until your whole body is relaxed. Let all the tension leave your shoulders. Yes, uncrunch your shoulders so they are no longer tight knobs sitting underneath your ears.   

Once you do that get up and stretch. You don’t have to know yoga to stretch out your limps. Let yourself feel the blood flowing throughout your body, and it’s important to keep taking deep breaths. The deep breaths actually will help make the stretching more fluid.   

This might not seem like a way to start writing an essay, but this is important prep work. Writing essays can take anywhere from an hour to four hours depending on how in-depth the essay is and that might just be the first draft. It’s important for your body to be limber. A limber and more relaxed body helps to focus on the task at hand.    

Now that you are seriously relaxing – and this is super important – do not take a nap. Taking a nap instead of writing that essay is one of the worst decisions that you can make. It may seem like a good idea; while your body is begging for a nap, it’s not a good idea.   

After successfully not taking a nap, start the research for the essay. It’s a productive way to procrastinate writing the essay. Look up all the articles that you think you’ll need. Articles that will help support your argument or shed light on a different view. This is also a way to start to ease you into the idea of writing an essay. It’s like you’re tricking your mind into caring.   

If you are still not ready to write yet, make a bullet list of all the points you want to hit in the essay and pull out some quotes from the list that you might want to use to help make that point. Preplan the essay so that when you start to stare at the blank page, heartbreak isn’t the only thing you see.   

At last, if none of this advice helps you start an essay then take a walk. Give yourself fifteen minutes of glorious outdoor air – yes it still exists – to feel like life isn’t just a mountain of books and essays. Walking helps get the blood flowing and has been known to help generate ideas. So, let’s go. Get relax, get prepared and start writing.   

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