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If you don’t have an environment where you can focus, you’ll waste hours jumping back and forth between the paper and whatever distractions come your way.To make sure you have the focus of a zen master, you must create a writing environment that enables zen-like focus.Okay, so you have a rock solid understanding of the topic, you’ve done your research, and your flat outline is ready. But not so fast: where you write makes a difference.
Starting in college, I developed my own outlining technique that was much more effective.
As it turns out, my technique wasn’t so original after all.
The flat outline works because it mirrors the writing process.
No one sits down to write with a perfect idea of what they’re going to say.
As Cal Newport explains, it’s called a flat outline.
In Cal’s words, the flat outline works as follows: Isn’t this so much better?
Best case scenario, the professor is nice and lets you rewrite it, but why do all that extra work?
Furthermore, asking the professor for clarification shows initiative–that you care about the assignment.
As I explained in my guide to library research, you shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes per page of the final paper researching.
That is, if the paper is supposed to be 5 pages, don’t spend more than 2.5 hours on research (maximum).