Essaying: the Process

As you can tell from the title, this is not so much about creative writing as it is about academic. However, even creative writers have staggered under the crushing, academic blows dealt by thesis papers and the villainous professors that assign them. But as the school year drags on (whether in high school or college), hot chocolate highs increase and eight-page papers catch us at the last minute like frightful undertows on Pacific shorelines.
Essaying: The Process

So! How on earth do we nail these papers start to finish, stay sane and maintain some sort of life outside of the library and three hour naps on the couch?

Step One: Look ahead. For me at least, my biggest issue is letting the paper catch me by surprise. One week you're innocently sleeping-I mean sitting- through a lecture and then the next...BAM! Yup. There's an eight-page essay due. This can be avoided if we plan ahead. Why are syllabi important? Well, they're great to doodle on during the first day of class...No! We need to FIND THAT PAPER on the syllabus and mark the due date down.

Step Two: Gather information. Sometimes teachers give you a particular topic to write about, and other times you are (somewhat mercifully) allowed to chose your own. If this is the case, after you are aware of the deadline, you should be choosing your thesis almost immediately after. You're going to want to start gathering information and accumulate over the weeks after you've chosen your thesis. If you push it off until a week before the deadline, the library will be crammed with other students trying to rent materials to finish their papers before the deadline as well. But not you! You will have gathered your materials weeks ago and may have even got  basic outline! Riiiiiiiiight...?

Step Three: An Outline. When I was in Middle School, teachers kept giving us all these exercises to practice creating outlines. Of course, all the students hated it. However, now that I'm older and I have papers to get done, I can not believe how valuable these are. It's a formula:

Intro.

Paragraph 1.
a. point
b. point
c. point

Paragraph 2. etc...

Doesn't look like much, huh? But believe me, outlines are a lifesaver. You have your materials, all you've gotta do is organize it.

Step Four: Give yourself some space. What's worse than the crazy, rushed feeling of having to plump yourself down at your desk at 11:00 am and trying to shell out an essay before the deadline TOMORROW? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That's why you need to give yourself some space. Start writing the essay two weeks before the due date. That way if something  comes up you can come back to it later without staying up all night or thinking up some excuse to hand your teacher instead of your essay. This also gives you time to re-read and edit your work. If there was something you thought of to add, you can add it in. You don't have to complete it in one day.

Step Five: Don't give up. We've all experienced the awful, awful feeling when we have all our materials but we just can't think up what to write. Too many students just give up and get on the Internet instead. Nu-uh. You need to set a goal for yourself: "alright, I am NOT leaving my desk until I've finished the Intro. paragraph." Disconnect yourself from the Wi-Fi if you have to. Set small goals that you can stick too.

Step Six: Take breaks. So many studies have proven that students perform better when they are allowed breaks. So be nice to yourself and give yourself a break. You finished your first paragraph? Good for you. Take a twenty minute break. Stretch. Make hot chocolate. BUT DO NOT STAY ON THAT CHAIR. You need to get up and move. If you stay in one place too long, your motivation will drop just like your grades. (O.K., that was a little mean, but you get the point, yeah?)

Step Seven: Print out a rough draft. That's right. Even if you don't turn it in, print out a rough draft. Then sit down with a cup of hot cocoa or vanilla latte, take a RED PEN and read over your rough draft. I promise, this will make you +100% more aware to typos and errors. Write notes to yourself on what you think could be improved and what sounds bumpy. After you make the changes you can print out the final document and hand it in with confidence.

Let's face it: essaying will never be stress-free. But planning ahead, leaving yourself space and proof reading a rough draft can get you a whole heck of a lot closer to an organised, Grade A essay than you would scrambling to fit in that extra page just by changing the font size.

Good Luck!

Let's Chat!
1. What is your weakness when it comes to essaying?
2. What do you do to keep your essaying process organized and less stressful?
3. What do you believe is a better test of knowledge: essays or exams?

Comments

  1. My weakness when it comes to essaying is commas. I usually add way too many.
    I try and keep it organized and less stressful by listening to piano music when I write. it really helps me calm down and plow through.
    I think essays are a better test of knowledge, because you're not just regurgitating what you learned in class. You actually have to think about it and often you learn new things in the process(at least that's true for me)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree that Essays are a better test of knowledge than exams. And commas ARE weird! There are so many rules for comma usage!

      Delete
  2. "To be" verbs and proof reading are my Achilles Heel for essays.
    I keep it organized by writing out a schedule and trying my best to execute it, I also listen to classical, instrumental music while doing school to lower my stress levels.
    Ehh, I don't like either but if I had to choose, essays are better because you have to understand the subject to be able to write about it. It expands your knowledge when you actually have to think about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, that's a good idea to write a schedule! Yeah, both tests are grueling, stressful evils. Lol.
      Thanks for the feedback!! xD

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts