Let's face it, no one likes writing papers. Papers are terrible. They're time-consuming. They take actual work. They mean you need to look things up. They basically mean that you can't do what you want to do...the bane of a college student's existence. I just finished writing a 20-page research paper - yes, it was as bad as it sounds - and I'll share a few pointers that helped me get through writing the paper without losing my sanity in the process.
1. Start early.
I know, I know. Who in college starts their homework before the day that it's due? Trust me on this, though. At least find your references early - that way, all you have to do is break them into topics and condense them into your paper. I started my 20-pager a week before it was due, which to be honest was kind of pushing it because of the length that I needed.
2. Write in sections, and don't stop until you finish a section.
This is honestly the most efficient way that I can write. I am not kidding you, the day that I started my paper, I sat down and typed for eight hours straight. I hated it. I was miserable. I wanted to be doing anything BUT writing a research paper. But I got nine pages of writing done because I made up my mind not to stop in the middle of a topic. Besides, if you stop in the middle of something, there's a good chance that you will forget where you were going with what you were saying at the time. Just knock it out and get it over with
3. Know how to gather references.
DO NOT READ ALL OF EVERY REFERENCE YOU HAVE. Some professors would hate me for saying this, but it's true. Only read the sections of a reference that you need for your paper. If you read it all, you will both waste time and learn information that you probably can't use in your paper. Skim the material that you will be using, and work out your citation for the reference right then and there. Collect all of your references, organize them by topic, and then crank out one topic at a time. I had six pages of references by the time I finished my paper. Trust me, what a time saver.
4. Work on it every day, no matter the time amount.
This step makes all the difference. Even if you only work on it for an hour a day, working on it a little bit for a few days will make your writing go by so much more quickly. Because I wrote this way, I cranked out my 20-page paper in four days. Don't put it all off until the last day - not only will you feel rushed, but your paper will be less organized and you won't be able to write with the continuity that professors want to see. Take the time to write a bit of the paper to each day and make your writing more fluid.
Hopefully these tips will help you out as much as they help me. They make the difference between a definitely-night-before paper and a well-thought-out paper if you just take the time to do them!