Pulling an all-nighter for student writers

"Long Night Against Procrastination" gives students a chance to catch up on projects and learn ways to stop putting off papers.


(Edmonton) Nobody really means to procrastinate. It’s something that typically just, well, happens. You sit down to write that term paper—and suddenly your mind is filled with everything but the project you’re working on.

Maybe a lengthy scroll through Facebook will get you back on track. Or maybe you’ll focus better if you clean your entire room, and do your laundry first. And then, hours or even days later, when that paper is due, you realize what you’ve done—or rather, what you haven't done—and horror sinks in.

According to Lucie Moussu, director of the University of Alberta's Centre for Writers, procrastination is especially common among university students, who are often juggling heavy academic workloads, after-school jobs and extracurricular activities along with their social lives. They tend to overestimate how motivated they will be in the future, and underestimate how much time a project will take.

That’s why Moussu jumped on board when she heard about the Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP)—a free, all-night event that provides a safe and supportive space for students to pull an all-nighter and catch up on some of the work they’ve put off.

“If you think students don’t procrastinate, you’re living on a different planet,” says Moussu, who organized the event. “We can tell them it’s terrible, but students will do it anyway. So it’s better to teach them how to avoid it and help them get through it when it happens.”

The Centre for Writers is one of three writing centres in Alberta and 16 across Canada participating in the global event, slated for 8 p.m. Nov. 6 to 8 a.m. Nov. 7 in the Rutherford South Library.

Moussu says students need this kind of support, and LNAP offers an opportunity for them to get access to writing resources at night.

“Most students write their papers or tackle projects at night, after they’ve finished classes, worked at a job, visited with friends and usually they have nowhere to go,” she explains. “Basically what we’re saying is, if you are going to binge-write, here is a safe, healthy place to do it.”


Along with help to catch up on any projects that may have piled up, the event also offers workshops on how to avoid future procrastination, says Moussu.

“We’ll be sharing strategies and tips on how to plan your workload, how to deal with distraction, lots of different ways to avoid procrastinating. It’s about promoting healthy study habits, getting some work done and having fun too.”

LNAP kicks off Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. An international dinner is scheduled for midnight, followed by a survivors’ breakfast at 6 a.m. Nov. 7.

Throughout the night, students can have private sessions with both English and French tutors, spend time writing, get feedback from peers, eat, participate in workshops and even take creative breaks including yoga and music classes.

Organizers suggest students bring a pillow, blanket or sleeping bag if they plan on staying all night. “You want to make sure you’re comfortable and that if you need to rest you can do so,” says Moussu.

The event is supported by the Provost's Office and sponsored by several faculties, departments and centres across campus.