Why do students find essay writing so difficult, confusing and stressful? One reason is that they are often unsure about how to approach this creative process. I have spent many years supporting college and university students, including those diagnosed with a specific learning difficulty (SpLD) such as dyslexia. The problem of how to plan, structure and write effective essays, dissertations or PhD theses was a constant. It can have a profound effect upon student morale and performance.
What all of these students had in common, apart from having a great tutor (ahem), was that no one had explained the essay writing process to them clearly enough. There’s that word again: process. Most of these students were stressed, frustrated and doubting themselves. All of them had something to say. Sometimes they didn’t know what it was or how to say it initially but, once they understood and embraced the writing process, they were able to express themselves clearly, concisely and coherently. They felt a lot better about life too.
Academic writing is not a mysterious process, but it is a process. Many clients experience issues with confidence or anxiety. Understanding the writing process as a process empowers academic writers at all levels. As a mentor, I assist my clients to think through their blocks and problems, often challenging debilitating procrastination born of perfectionism or fear, via a process of supportive accountability.
I assist academic writers at all levels (including post-docs). My clients are naturally creative, resourceful and ambitious. My role is to work with them, not to ‘fix’ them or tell them what to do. Academic mentoring is a dialogue, a dynamic process, wherein the mentor supports and challenges the client as they find clarity, facilitating success. Students often think that their university tutor or supervisor will guide them through the essay or dissertation writing process. However, the truth is that academics do not have the time (nor in some cases the inclination) to advise, cajole or guide their tutees regarding writing and organisational or motivational issues.
Freelance academic mentors do have the time. We work one to one with our clients, focusing on the individual to develop skills and confidence. I help my clients (across all subject specialisms) with technique, style, structure, flow and editing, meeting assignment criteria, building persuasive arguments, and increasing grades.
If you would like me to help you, use this contact form and request to work with Dr Simon J. Parkes FHEA.