Starting an essay can be tough. It’s easy to claim you have writer’s block or that the creative juices just aren’t flowing today, but eventually you’re going to have to bite the bullet and write your essay. And unfortunately, once your essay is written it’s still not done, because then comes the editing phase. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips to help you get into the writing mood, and to ensure that what you end up handing in to your teacher is guaranteed to impress.
Tips for Writing
1. Get Your Research Done First
Once you’ve chosen a topic, do as much research as possible on that topic. Use all the resources at your disposal - books, websites, journals etc… Keep all relevant research in a single document so it’s easy to go back to. Having a bit of background information on your topic will make it easier to form a thesis.
2. Write Your Thesis Statement
Though it’s very likely your thesis will have changed by the time you finish your essay, writing your thesis is a good way to start. The thesis is a clear statement that your essay will be centered around. Once you know this, it will be easier to start writing as you’ll have an idea of what you need to prove or argue.
3. Skip The Introduction
Writing an essay out of order can be a useful technique when trying to force yourself to write an essay. The introduction can sometimes be the hardest part of an essay, so don’t stress over finishing it first. If you wait until you’ve written your body paragraphs, you won’t have to work at writing your introduction, it will come naturally to you as you already know exactly what the rest of your paper says.
4. Write Topic Sentences
A major criticism by teachers is that an essay is unclear or vague. Try and prevent getting comments like this by writing out a clear topic sentence for every paragraph. Your topic sentence should include what you are trying to prove in your essay (paraphrase your thesis) as well as what the specific paragraph will be discussing.
5. Use Evidence
This may seem obvious, but it’s very important, and there is a specific way you can use evidence in your essay. Each body paragraph should have 2-3 pieces of evidence in it minimum. A clear, organized way of structuring your body paragraphs is to describe the first piece of evidence, and then explain how this evidence is significant to your argument/how it proves your thesis (answer the dreaded "so what?" question). The key is to relate all evidence back to your thesis statement. Repeat the “describe and explain” model for each piece of evidence.
Tips for Editing
1. Make A Word Cloud
Wordle is a great app that allows you to see which words you use most in an essay in a fun and colourful way. Go to wordle.net and copy and paste your essay into the text box. Wordle will then generate a word cloud that shows you which words were used most commonly (the larger the word is, the more you used it). This can help you avoid repetition.
2. Read It Out Loud
It’s much easier to catch mistakes when you are reading out loud. So sit in your room and read your essay aloud to yourself. You will notice immediately if you are missing a word, have a run-on sentence, or are missing a comma.
3. Have Someone Else Read It Over
Having someone else read your essay over is not only helpful for spelling and grammar mistakes, but is the best way to tell if your argument makes sense. When you read over your own essay, it’s easy to believe everything makes perfect sense because you know a lot about the topic and what you mean to convey when you write something. However, someone who has not been studying the topic will easily be able to point out if something isn’t explained clearly or doesn’t connect back to your thesis well. If you have a friend read it, ask them what they think your argument is. This is a great question that will let you know how clearly your argument comes across.
4. And Finally... ASK FOR HELP!
If you are having trouble writing your essay, ask for help! There are an abundance of resources out there. If you want someone to proofread your essay, need help choosing a topic, or aren’t sure whether your argument is strong enough, ask your teacher, your family, or even a tutor for help! GradeSlam has expert English tutors available 24/7 to help you with your essay troubles.