I think a lot of us who teach writing in various forms have developed stepping stone assignments along the path for bigger essays. For example, we might require a research question(s), bibliography, annotated bibliography, response to an essay, abstract, draft(s), and so on.
In theory, these are a great idea. They do help students avoid procrastination at least somewhat.
But when they all pile on my desk, even if I just need to take a quick look and put a checkmark, they really add up.