The 5 Stages of Writing a Small Group Assignment

I wrote an essay this past weekend. It was a, shall we say, tumultuous experience. It looked kind of like this.

1. Denial

Sounds like: I still have a few days to do this. It won’t be that bad. 2500 words isn’t that long anyway. I don’t quite understand all these articles on my topic, but that’s not the end of the world. I’m sure it will be clear to me shortly, and I’ll be done with time to spare. 

Characterized by: half-hearted Google searches, clicking through to random Wikipedia pages, incomplete note-taking, casually paging through textbooks, skimming through a handful of journal articles.

2. Anger

Sounds like: How could I let this happen?! Why does this even matter? Who does this author think he is, and why does he use so much Latin in his writing? Unacceptable. I don’t even care about the grade. I’m going on strike. I’ll be a conscientious objector.

Characterized by: pacing, angrily muttering at the computer screen, random insertion of expletives into essay, slamming casebooks shut and throwing them against the wall.

3. Bargaining

Sounds like: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I need to pass. Just let me pass. Come exam time, I’ll be the best student ever. I’ll have the most beautiful course map you’ve ever seen. I’ll actually understand the ratios of the important cases. Just please don’t judge me too harshly on this. I was misguided, and foolish. It won’t happen again.

Characterized by: compulsively writing and re-writing the same paragraph. Agonizing over what source to cite to support each statement. Dreaming up elaborate arguments to include whichever cases from class made the most sense as relevant to the argument. Praying that the curve will work in your favour.

4. Depression

Sounds like: This is it. This is the day they finally realize admitting me was a tragic misunderstanding. Everybody understands what’s going on except me. I may as well not hand this in. Maybe I can be a taxi driver. Everybody always talks about the myth of a taxi driver with a Ph.D. I can be the one with a fraction of a legal education. That’s almost as beautifully tragic.

Characterized by: staring blankly at the computer screen, paging through casebooks for no reason whatsoever, building a nest of blankets and pillows under the bed and hiding in it.

5. Acceptance

Sounds like: The deadline is here and I have a complete essay. I even managed to respect the word limit. There are properly formatted citations (I think), and a bibliography, and a title page and everything. That’s not nothing. I think I even made some relevant points in there. It’s at least decent. It’s going to be okay.

Characterized by: printing the assignment, handing it in, and going for a celebratory coffee.

Okay, so the coffee was less celebratory and more necessary due to lack of sleep, but it’s almost the same thing. Besides, why can’t it be both?

Student life, at it’s finest. I’m living the dream.


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