15 Things English Majors Do When Editing a Paper

By: Rachel Newcombe and Olivia Provencher

English majors have the reputation of only reading books and writing papers. Which is pretty much true (it is called an English major, after all). And even though we chose the read-and-write lifestyle, we have a lot in common with all students in Humanities: the things we do when we write essays.

We sat down and talked about what we did when we wrote our essays, and realized that we did a lot of the same things and felt a lot of the same feelings (so many feels…)

If you’re looking for a break from writing that midterm essay or scrolling through countless tabs of secondary sources on your internet browser,  look at this list of fifteen things we think humanities students’ do/feel while writing papers. Go ahead, see if we’re wrong.

 

1. Saying you’re going to start early but never get around to it until two days before the due date

Air Quotes are key when discussing possible paper prep

Air Quotes are key when discussing possible paper prep

2. Making pages of citations before you even start your paper (because you know you’ll need all the help you can get)

3. Making an outline and congratulating yourself on all that work you just did (it’s not as much as we’d like to think)

High-Five? No? Self-Five? Okay.

High-Five? No? Self-Five? Okay.

4. Thinking ten pages is totally doable, before realizing you only know enough to write six.

Your prof will know what is real and what is complete bullshit.

Your prof will know what is real and what is complete bullshit.

5. Going to the coffee shop to ‘work’ because you think you’ll be more productive, but really you just spend twenty dollars in the half hour you’re there.

Just take my money

Just take my money

6. Realizing your paper is half quotes (and you had the one moment when you thought you were in the clear).

7. Treating your thesaurus like the Bible (it has all the answers…)

8. Secretly cursing your friend in business that complains about a thousand-word reflection (no one cares, I wrote five thousand words this week alone).

I'll come to you when I need economics help, but until then please leave.

I'll come to you when I need economics help, but until then please leave.

9. When you double-space your document and suddenly feel like you’ve accomplished the essay equivalent of a no- hitter (that’s baseball, but what do we know, we’re too busy writing six papers at once to watch sports).

10. Going through your paper to make sure there are no contractions (thereby adding to your word count).

You don't see imperfections at this point. 

You don't see imperfections at this point. 

11. Looking up MLA or APA format even though you’ve done it a thousand times.

12. Citation generators. Gods gift to English majors.

13. Reading your paper aloud and realizing that you have absolutely no clue what you were trying to say in paragraph three.

You're on autopilot at this point.

You're on autopilot at this point.

14. Passing it in and thinking you could win the Pulitzer or you could fail the class – it could go either way.

15. Quitting Microsoft Word application at the end of a long, long semester (YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS)