For thousands of college students, finding the time to complete all coursework in between classes and other obligations can be a challenge. If you’re struggling to find college essay writing help, you may want to think about using the practice of speedwriting to take care of your academic essays.
Speedwriting is a method for producing quality work within the context of serious time constraints. This article provided by Ultius will tell you what you need to know about speedwriting so that you can use this method yourself when you need it. The article will include the following sections:
- Overview of speedwriting
- The problem addressed by speedwriting
- Benefits of speedwriting
- Preparing to speedwrite
- How to speedwrite
- A full example of a speedwritten paper
- Limitations of speedwriting
- Learning more
Overview of Speedwriting as a College Essay Writing Help Tool
In some contexts, speedwriting refers to a method of shorthand that is used for taking notes. This is usually spelled “speedwriting” (without a space) and it is a trademarked term. It was primarily developed in order to help workers such as secretaries keep up when typing a transcript.
“In Speedwriting, words are written as they sound, and only long vowels are expressed. Thus, ‘you’ is written u and ‘file’ is written fil.”
Or, as NPR has put it:
“Only essential ideas. Omit extra words. Few prepositions, fewer articles. Boil down.”
This is not the topic of the present article. This article is not about any system of shorthand, but rather about how to actually produce full written work in a rapid manner. Speedwriting as it is used in this article thus refers to this method of writing fast, and not to the historical usage discussed above.
What does speedwriting look like in practice?
Speedwriting is a method for organizing and executing your writing work in a streamlined fashion that does not waste any time. According to David Masters of Envato, there are three steps to the speedwriting process:
- Creating an outline
Each step naturally flows into the other in order to help you keep moving and not waste precious minutes or hours staring at a blank document.
For example, by creating an outline, you structure your basic thoughts about what you are going to write. So, when you do actually begin to write, the flow should be easy and you should not have to stop to think about what comes next.
Likewise, by saving the editing for the end, you are free to just write as quickly as you can and not get caught up with small errors or concerns about mechanics, since that can come later.
Why you may need speedwriting
Many people struggle with managing their time and fitting everything that needs to get done into their busy schedules—and unfortunately, this only gets worse as you get older.
For example, in a study conducted by Pew Research Center, it was found that in America, 25 percent of employed men and 33 percent of employed women report that they always feel rushed. That’s not even counting the people who may “sometimes” or “often” feel rushed.
Percentage of Americans feeling rushedSource: PEW
The number of Americans feeling rushed is growing, especially with employed women.
In this context, if you are working and/or a parent and also trying to go to school or further your education in other ways, then the various responsibilities can clearly add up and become quite daunting.
When you are younger, you don’t have as many responsibilities, and many college students focus exclusively on their education. However, there is a growing trend of older students going back to school because they did not get the college essay writing help they needed.
According to data analyzed by the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of college students who are 25 years of age or older is substantial and rising.
College students by age (%) Source: NCES
Description of data.
|25-30||35 and older|
|4-year private nonprofit||29||34|
|4-year private for-profit||40||40|
|2-year private nonprofit||31||29|
|2-year private for-profit||38||29|
This means that more and more students will need to fulfill their educational responsibilities while also taking care of all the other responsibilities of being an adult.
This is where speedwriting can really help. It is a way for you to get writing done quickly, so that you will have more time to dedicate to the obligations and/or priorities. If writing is not the most important thing in your life, then it makes sense that you would want to get the work over with in as efficient a manner as possible.
Benefits of speedwriting (the pros)
A clear benefit of speedwriting is that it can relieve your stress by enabling you to produce a high-quality written document in a short period of time, as opposed to leaving you to procrastinate the work and continually worry about what you’re going to do.
According to Eric Jaffe in an article for the Association for Psychological Science, about 20 percent of people may be chronic procrastinators, in the sense that they are somehow wired in such a way that they feel that they have to procrastinate (and many of those people may in fact work best under pressure).
Many others, though, procrastinate simply because they are afraid of the work in front of them and don’t know how they are going to take care of it. For those people, procrastination can just make the work even worse when it is finally time to do it.
According to data reported by Amy Novotney for the American Psychological Association, as many as 95 percent of all students struggle with procrastination, and it causes a significant negative impact on their quality of life, especially quality related to stress. A rigorous study on procrastination conducted by Levy and Ramim found that 58 percent of students tend to procrastinate when it comes to online exams, and that the scores of those students are significantly lower than the scores of the students who don’t procrastinate.
Procrastination and online exams Source: IJELLO
Percentage of students who procrastonate on online exams.
Speedwriting can help you avoid procrastination by boosting your confidence in your ability to take care of writing work in a competent way. It can help show you that there is nothing to be afraid of, and that writing a high-quality document is actually a straightforward a more or less formulaic process once you get the hang of it.
By helping you to not procrastinate and also enhance your own competence as a writer, the method of speedwriting may improve your quality of life. It may also ensure that you have enough time and energy to take care of other responsibilities as well.
College Essay Writing Help: Preparing to speed-write
When you are getting ready to speed-write, it is crucial that you eliminate all distractions from your environment. This is because the whole point of speedwriting is to focus your attention on the writing process and to not break the “flow” of that process.
If you get distracted by a text message or a phone call, then the momentum of speedwriting will be broken, and you will have to waste time getting back into the flow. This would defeat the entire purpose of speedwriting, and that is why you must make sure it does not happen.
Smartphone addiction has become a serious problem in modern America. According to survey data analyzed and reported by Common Sense Media, 50 percent of teenagers feel addicted to their smartphones, as do 27 percent of parents.
The numbers are even worse when it comes to feeling the need to immediately respond to text messages or social media notifications: 72 percent for teenagers and 48 percent of parents.
In order to effectively speed-write, you will have to get over this urge to check your phone or respond to social media at all times. During the time that you are working on writing, you should be completely offline and free from the temptation to respond to messages every couple minutes.
It may be a good idea to put your phone into airplane mode and to sign out from any messaging apps. This may sound difficult, but it may be even more difficult to get your writing work done without using the speedwriting method and dedicating full concentration to the work.
Once you are done writing, you will have all that saved time to engage with your smartphone and social media accounts as much as you want.
Some of the tips present in our infographic on best practices for writing a dissertation are also applicable for the speedwriting process.
Make time, set the mood (to write faster)
For an average college-level writing assignment, you shouldn’t need more than about 3 hours in order to successfully complete a paper using the speedwriting method. Carve out that much time somewhere in your schedule—time when you know that no one will distract you and you will not have to attend to any other responsibilities.
For example, if you have small children, you may want to schedule this time for sometime in the evening when they will be sleeping. Or if you have a job, then figure out a span of time when you will not have to attend to the responsibilities of that job.
Some people believe that the best way to concentrate is to find a quiet space where you can work in absolute silence. The truth, though, is somewhat more complex: it really seems to depend on the individual person. For example, an article written by Kaitlin Goodrich for Brainscape presents ambiguous findings that seem to sometimes even contradict each other:
“On the one hand, music has been shown to improve both the quality and quantity of work produced, especially when performing complex tasks. On the other hand, more recent studies have shown that music can impair your memorization skills . . . According to some studies, silence really is golden when tackling the most difficult tasks. . . . When doing routine or moderately difficult studying, low chatter and noise (such as the ambient noise at a coffee shop or at the student center) can actually help your brain filter material.”
These findings seem to be all over the place, to the point that it would be difficult to make any objective or universal recommendations about the level of noise that is best for speedwriting. It’s obvious, of course, that you should not be in a place that is completely loud. But for many people, mild noise does seem to help with concentration better than total silence.
The best suggestion is that you should know yourself and ask yourself about the kind of environment where you are most comfortable and able to concentrate. The important thing is to not be distracted and that the flow of your speedwriting process will not be broken.
The problem of writer’s block
Writer’s block is a real problem that affects even the best writers. This is when you are left staring at the blinking cursor on your blank document and have no idea what you are supposed to say next and need all the college essay writing help you can get.
Writer’s block essentially involves your creativity being blocked up, such that you just feel unable to get into the flow of the words. Professional writers often experience this because they are writing all the time, and of course all people have moods where creativity is easy sometimes but very difficult other times.
Major writers often try to just power through writer’s block through the use of sheer willpower.
William Faulkner once said:
“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”
Of course, for most people, writing is not something that they need to do every single day. They just need to figure out how to take care of writing work when it is assigned to them; they are not trying to be creative writers day in and day out and often turn to college essay writing help.
From that angle, it is important to ensure that when you sit down for the speedwriting process, you are in a frame of mind where there will not be any delays. In order to achieve this, plan to do something that is calming and will clear your mind immediately before sitting down to write.
This could involve going for a walk, or having a beer (if you’re of age) with a friend, or perhaps listening to some music—whatever makes you relaxed and comfortable.
This can get your mind into a good flow, which can transfer over to the activity of writing. Doing something relaxing can be especially helpful if the thought of writing makes you anxious. The positive energy from the relaxing activity can help offset the anxiety you might feel when you sit down to write.
Moreover, the speedwriting method itself is meant to help overcome writer’s block. This is because before you start writing, you make a general outline of your thoughts and what you are going to write, so that you don’t have to stop and figure it out in the middle of the writing process itself.
Likewise, when you are writing, the point is to not stop or worry about issues of mechanics: that comes later. When you are speedwriting, you want to keep the dance of your fingers on the keyboard going in a constant way so that you don’t break the rhythm. This is similar to what many writers do to overcome writer’s block, which is just write down whatever crosses their minds, without wondering about whether it makes sense or not.
Technical tools to help you write faster
There are many tools and resources including technology for writers available online to help speed up some of the more technical aspects of writing a paper.
Citation style generator
Citations are an important part of most college-level research papers: you need to examine articles and books that are related to the topic you are discussing, and then you often need to use both in-text citations and a reference list at the end of the paper in order to give credit where credit is due for words and ideas.
It is very important to do this, because if you do not cite your sources properly, then this is plagiarism, which is a serious academic issue. If you are caught committing plagiarism, then you could get a failing grade for your course or even get kicked out of your degree program. In short, never plagiarize, and always use proper references.
There are different citation styles that are commonly used by different academic disciplines. Here is a list of three different styles and a selected journal article referenced in each of these styles.
Common Citation Styles
The three most common citation styles used in academic writing are MLA, APA, and CMS.
It can be tricky to get the hang of these different styles unless you are an expert writer who has a lot of experience in this area. There are citation tools available online that can format the references for you if you just enter in the appropriate information.
Google has a citation tool, and several others are also available online. Careful, though: if the tool is free, then look around the website in around to determine its level of credibility.
Spell check can be an essential tool for speedwriting, because when you’re writing in a continuous flow without stopping too much to check what you’ve written, it is very much possible that you’ll make some typos along the way. These can be both embarrassing and unprofessional, so it’s best to catch them if you can. Also, you may want to use some uncommon words in your paper, and you may not actually be sure how they are spelled.
Both Microsoft Word and Google Docs (comparison infographic) have spell check features built into the software. The spell check can be set to automatic, in which case it will correct errors for you; it can be set to underline mistakes with a red squiggly line; or it can be set so that a full spell check can be run on the document when you specifically click on the relevant button in the application.
You can decide what level of assistance you want based on your own level of confidence as a speller.
Grammar checks are also available, with Grammarly being one particularly in-depth tool in this regard (although it isn’t available for free).
The different citation styles also have different requirements about how documents are supposed to be set up and formatted. This includes things such as margins, information on the title page, headers and footnotes, and so on.
This can also be difficult to keep track of, and your writing process can be sped up by using a template that is designed for the specific citation style that you need. For example, if you need an MLA paper, then you can download an MLA template that is pre-formatted in accordance with MLA standards. Ultius has such templates available for your use.
How to speed-write
1. Choosing/understanding the topic
Find a space where you won’t be distracted while you write. For college papers, you are often given a choice of several prompts to select from. Effective speedwriting begins with selecting the topic that seems most amenable to the speedwriting process.
This means that you already have background knowledge about one of the prompts, then you should most definitely go with that one. This can significantly cut back on the amount of time that you will need to spend on research and preparation.
For example, a history assignment may provide you with the following prompts:
- “Provide a summary of a main argument made in favor of a strong central government in the Federalist Papers.”
- Explore the belief that Thomas Jefferson had children with a slave woman, and provide your own conclusion about whether this was true.
In this situation, unless you already knew a lot about Jefferson, it would probably be a good idea for speedwriting purposes to go with the first prompt. This is because the source material for the first prompt is clearly specified in the prompt itself, whereas the second prompt is much more open-ended.
Moreover, you could easily find articles online that discuss the Federalist Papers, whereas it may be much more difficult to find specific and credible information for the second prompt.
You should be strategic when choosing from a list of prompts, because it is often the case that one of the prompts may be much more compatible with speedwriting than the others.
If there is only one prompt and no choice, then make sure you read it carefully and ensure that you understand the question properly. Also, narrow down your response as much as you can.
With the first prompt listed above, you could decide to focus exclusively on one Federalist paper, which would be both adequate for answering the question and significantly cut back the amount of research required.
Many college assignments come with a rubric, which is a kind of chart that tells you exactly what is expected of you and how much the different components of your paper will contribute to your final grade. You should examine this carefully, as this is literally what your professor will be using in order to grade your paper.
2. Developing an outline
Unless you have a great deal of experience with writing, our college essay writing help tip would be that you will need an essay outline in order to speed-write your paper in an effective way. This is because an outline can help you structure your ideas ahead of time and give you a basic blueprint or roadmap of where you’re going when you actually write your paper.
Speedy outline example
Having an outline planned out ahead of time with your key points will save you a lot of writing time
Again, the point of speedwriting is to keep writing without stopping or breaking the flow, so it is important to have your course planned out ahead of time. That’s what the outline is for.
You may have heard about the five-paragraph essay format: introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, the truth is that this format is highly overrated.
As Young Writers Project has suggested:
“There are very few things that can be summed up in exactly five paragraphs. Indeed, five paragraphs is too short a length to make any sort of decent point, unless it is of a very obvious nature.”
And of course, if you’re writing a somewhat longer paper, then five paragraphs definitely wouldn’t be enough to fill up all the space. Even a 4-page paper would require more than five paragraphs (unless those paragraphs were so long as to be unwieldy). So, forget about this rule.
The point of developing an outline is to break your main argument into key units. These units can be sections of your paper, and each section can have as many paragraphs as you need in order to make your point.
A full outline for a speed-written paper can be found below.
3. Compiling paper sources
In order to speed-write effectively, you’ll want to compile all of your sources and references before you begin the writing process. You won’t want to interrupt your flow to find these sources while you’re in the middle of the process.
In general, your outline should be enough to give you an idea of what sources you will need for your paper. So, find credible sources on your subject, and take care of developing your reference list first, before you actually write the paper.
Then, while you’re writing the paper, you can toss in a citation wherever it seems appropriate to support a point you’re making with one of your sources.
Credible sources can be found in many places. Using websites is generally not recommended, unless the websites are run by credible magazines or professional organizations. Books are always a good form of source material, and they can of course be found both at libraries and online (at least partially) through Google and Amazon.
Academic journal articles are also great to use for any academic paper. These can be found through the Google Scholar database as well as a number of other databases that are probably available to you through your college library.
Online resources are available to help you generate reference list entries in a wide range of styles and for many different kinds of sources, including books, journal entries, websites, and even movies.
4. The speedwriting process
After you’ve selected your topic, developed your outline, and compiled your sources, you are ready for the writing process.
Find an environment where you feel comfortable, and make sure you have taken precautions (including putting your phone into airplane mode) in order to not be distracted or disturbed.
Follow your outline in order to write your paper, and you will use your sources when and where appropriate within the paper.
When you’re engaged in speedwriting, don’t worry about minor errors such as typos or mechanics. You aren’t trying to make the paper as polished as possible; rather, the point is to keep yourself in the flow of writing and not stop until all the pages that need to be produced have been produced.
If your outline is sound and based on the rubric for the paper, then the content your produce through speedwriting should match up with what is required for the assignment. The idea is to not stop writing until all the required pages have been filled up with words.
5. The final editing process
Finally, once you’ve completed the speedwriting process, you should read over your paper and review it for errors, mechanical issues, and the like. Since speedwriting involves not stopping to check these things while you are writing, it is possible that quite a few typos may have made their way into the document. Most of these can be caught through the use of the spell check function.
If you are concerned and in a time crunch, though, you may want to consider having someone else do a quick edit of your paper for you, scanning primarily not for issues of content but rather for issues of grammar, spelling, and mechanics. If your paper is due in 6 hours, then perhaps you would want to hand it off to a friend to take a quick look at it for you. You could also submit your paper to Ultius: we offer editing services for academic documents.
A full example of a speed-written paper
A full example of a speed-written paper Publitas
This sample paper was produced using the speedwriting methods described in this blog.
Limitations of speedwriting
Speedwriting is workable as a method for the average college paper assignment. However, the method does have its limits. There are some kinds of assignments that are simply not compatible with speedwriting, and you should know about this, so that you don’t put off such assignments until the last minute or try to take care of them in much less time than would be required in order to do a good job.
Technical writing is a specialized form of writing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
“Technical writers, also called technical communicators, prepare instruction manuals, how-to-guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily.”
Technical writing is generally not compatible with speedwriting because it requires a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. You can’t just develop an idea and then run with it across the flow of pages and pages. Rather, in technical writing, every sentence and even every word must fulfill a designated function.
This means that the basic principle of speedwriting, which is to just keep writing without stopping or worrying about details, is not applicable to technical writing, since in this form of writing the details are everything. You are not free to develop your own train of thought or get creative with the material. Rather, the specific technical instructions must be followed to the letter.
In some ways, technical writing almost resembles coding more than writing per se. This is one form of writing where the speedwriting method would almost certainly produce failure.
Speedwriting is primarily meant to be used for shorter essays that are assigned to you over the course of your semester. If you are feeling ambitious, then you may even be able to use the method for your final term paper. If you are stretched for time and don’t think that speedwriting will cut it for you, using paper writing services is another good alternative.
However, the method is not suitable for longer documents. For example, your degree program may require you to produce a thesis or dissertation at the end. Do not try to speed-write this document. For one thing, such a document requires you to have immersive knowledge of your subject matter; and for another, they are far too long to successfully write in one sitting. If that is the case, consider looking for college essay writing help.
Breakdown of dissertations in the humanities and the sciences
|1||Front material||Front material|
|3||Chapter 1||Literature review|
|7||Chapter 5, etc.||Implications|
As you can see, a dissertation is a long document with a complex structure, and a successful document could well require the use of close to 100 sources. This is a major project that cannot be taken care of in a short span of time using the speedwriting method.
Rather, you would need to make time in your schedule on a regular basis over the span of months or even years in order to have a successful written product at the end.
The fact is that even the best writers start to feel burned out if they attempt to write more than about 15 pages a day. So, don’t put yourself in this position.
If you are struggling with a longer document, then Ultius may be able to help. Our custom writing services can provide you with a sample document on your subject of interest, so that you can look over the sample and thereby gain a better sense of what you have to do and how you completed longer document is supposed to look.
Research studies and data analyses
A research study requires you to actually go out and conduct an experiment or fieldwork before you write your paper. You are supposed to generate your own proposal including independent data, on which the paper will be based. This can be time-consuming.
Also, when you write up your final document on the basis of your research, the writing can resemble technical writing. Usually, for research studies, you have to follow a fairly rigorous template or structure and ensure that you meet all the specific technical requirements of your field.
Moreover, research studies often require data analyses, and this can also be a process that requires meticulousness. For quantitative research, you have to make sure that you are using the right formulas to analyze your numbers; and for qualitative research, you have to code your data properly in order to derive the best possible meanings from it. These are long-term, time-consuming activities that speedwriting cannot effectively address. Because of this, do not be afraid to look for college essay writing help.
If you want to learn more about how to write an effective paper, Ultius has many college essay writing help resources at your disposal. Here is a list of some of them.
Effective study habits. By adhering to the four practices delineated in this article, you can study more productively and save time on this end as well.
Going to college in your 30s. This article is about how to balance school, work, and family if you are an older student going to college. Speedwriting is one of the techniques that may be able to help achieve this balance.
APA citation style overview. APA style is the most commonly used style in the sciences, and this article provides a general overview of the features of this style. This can help you format your paper and references when you speed-write a science paper.
There are many further resources that can be found across the Ultius website, so if you would like more information or support, then please feel free to take a look around.
At Ultius, we can provide college essay writing help if you’re struggling to write the pefect academic paper. Learn more about our paper writing service today.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Technical Writers.” Author, 2018. Web. 27 Jun. 2018. .
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Goodrich, Kaitlin. “Can ‘Distracting’ Noise Actually Help You Study Better?” Brainscape, 26 May 2017. Web. 26 Jun. 2018. .
Levy, Yair, and Michelle R. Ramim. “A Study of Online Exams Procrastination Using Data Analytics Techniques.” Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects 8 (2012): 97-113. .
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National Center for Education Statistics. “Characteristics of Post-Secondary Students.” Author, Apr. 2018. Web. 29 Jun. 2018. .
National Public Radio. “Forget Speed-Reading. Here’s Speed-Writing.” Author, 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 29 Jun. 2018. .
Novotney, Amy. “Procrastination or Intentional Delay?” American Psychological Association, Jan. 2010. Web. 26 Jun. 2018. .
Pew Research Center. “Who’s Feeling Rushed?” Author, 28 Feb. 2016. Web. 26 Jun. 2018. .
Young Writers Project. “Five Paragraphs on Why I Hate the Five Paragraph Essay.” Author, 29 Apr. 2017. Web. 26 Jun. 2018. .