With the academic year about to start, as a public service we provide this guide to writing a paper:
1. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
2. Read the assignment carefully to make certain you understand it.
3. Walk down to the vending machines and buy some coffee to help you concentrate.
4. Stop off at the third floor on the way back and visit with your friend from class. If your friend hasn't started the paper yet either, you both can walk to McDonald’s and buy a hamburger to help you concentrate. If your friend shows you his paper, typed, double-spaced, and bound in one of those irritating see-thru plastic folders, drop him.
5. When you get back to your room, sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
6. Read the assignment again to make absolutely certain you understand it.
7. You know, you haven't written to that kid you met at camp since fourth grade. You'd better write that letter now and get it out of the way so you can concentrate.
8. Go look at your teeth in the bathroom mirror.
9. Listen to one of your favorite CDs and that's it—I mean it—as soon as it's finished you are going to start that paper.
10. Rearrange all of your CDs into alphabetical order.
11. Phone your friend on the third floor and ask if he's started writing yet. Exchange remarks about your teacher, the course, the university and the world at large.
12. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
13. Read the assignment again; roll the words across your tongue; savor its special flavor.
14. Check the newspaper listings to make sure you aren't missing something truly worthwhile on TV. NOTE: When you have a paper due in less than 12 hours, anything on TV from Masterpiece Theater to Sgt. Preston of the Yukon is truly worthwhile, with these exceptions: a) Pro Bowler's Tour b) any movie starring Don Ameche.
15. Catch the last hour of “Soul Brother of Kung Fu” on channel 26.
16. Phone your friend on the third floor to see if he was watching. Discuss the finer points of the plot.
17. Go look at your tongue in the bathroom mirror.
18. Look through your roommate's book of pictures from home. Ask who everyone is.
19. Sit down and do some serious thinking about your plans for the future.
20. Open your door and check to see if there are any mysterious trench-coated strangers lurking in the hall.
21. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
22. Read the assignment one more time, just for the thrill of it.
23. Scoot your chair across the room to the window and watch the sunrise.
24. Lie face down on the floor and moan.