We all know it, writing essays can suck, especially if writing isn’t your forte. It isn’t as easy as just opening a book and getting your ideas from there, nope you have to research for hours on end, brainstorm, edit, outline, draft then submit the perfect essay that your lecturer will love. How is it even possible to tick all of those boxes?
Well I’ve got some hot tips for you that will make your essay writing a little easier and little less painful next time the dreaded essay task comes up. Read on.
You need to understand the assignment.
Sounds simple enough right? Wrong. There are so many times when students undertake the task of writing an essay without fully understanding the question the lecturer is even asking. So make sure if the assignment seems even a little bit vague that you sit down and ask your professor and ask him to explain the parts you are unsure of. It would be a total waste of time to write an essay and then have to e-write it because you were too nervous to get clarification on the task at hand, plus it will get you some brownie points with your professor as asking questions shows initiative. Winning.
Put on your research hat, there’s a lot to do.
Now you understand the assignment it is time to get researching, but this is the time for writing not procrastinating so give yourself a time limit on how long you will research to write your paper. It’s easy to get lost in the vortex of research and forget about the task at hand, there is no point in stressing about not having enough information on hand as more will come to light as you start writing and if you feel it is a little light then you can always research more later.
Find the right environment to write in.
Everyone works differently and for me I like to write in my bed, that might seem weird but I have comfy pillows, a cup of green tea on hand and a candle that smells delicious on my beside table so for me that is the perfect place to get creative. Find where you get the best Zen like focus and start writing your essay there. Clean your desk, ensure there is no clutter and that noise is at a minimum so you can concentrate and give it your best work.
Follow a set structure and don’t try and reinvent the wheel.
You need to fulfil the assignment requirement and impress your lecturer with your thought processes, arguments and ideas not redefine the way you write a paper. Pick a standard structure and stick to it, if you want to change the world the save that for the arguments in the paper. Pay attention to the readings your lecturer assigns you and the class and pay attention to the structure, that should give you an understanding of the structure he or she is drawn too and if you still can’t work it out then just ask them for some relevant guides or examples to get you started.
As the saying goes, it’s quality not quantity.
If the lecturer has asked for a 6 – 7 page essay then give them that, don’t be tempted into thinking that writing an extra 2 pages will get you noticed. It’s the total opposite, all lecturers will always prefer a great 6 pager over a just ok 8 pager. Don’t dilute your argument by trying to stretch is out. Keep it short, sweet and concise. It’s not just a waste of time it can actually seriously hurt your marks so don’t spend any more time or add fluff just for the hell of it.
Don’t edit your essay alone
Ask someone to sanity check it for you and edit it where need be. The chances are you have been staring at this paper so long that you are inherently blind to the mistakes in your writing so have a fresh set of eyes go over it to double check all is as it should be.
Use a citation generator
Adding citations at the end of writing your paper is literally the pits so save yourself the time and headspace and use a citation generator tool. Most of the articles I researched online pointed to https://www.zotero.org/ as the favourite but feel free to use which ever you prefer but do yourself a favour and use at least one and watch your citation worries disappear (but do just take a glance over your citations before submitting as these tools aren’t 100% perfect).
Finally, if writing essays are the bane of your existence then it might be worth looking into an intensive writing course in the summer, sure the classes might be “intense” as the course name suggests but it will make you a better writer, so maybe think about giving it a chance.
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash