True ease in writing comes from Art not Chance, As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
– Alexander Pope.
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 was a constant. It can have a profound effect upon student morale and performance. This isn’t the place to explore the reasons why students are left floundering in the juices of their confusion. This is, however, the place to find out how you can make your life easier.
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.
These posts represent a quick guide. It is something that I think will be useful to you, but I’m not claiming to be able to turn you into a prolific first-class essay writer – and you don’t need to be one of those (not yet, anyway). This step-by-step guidance includes specific tasks that will enable you to plan and write effective essays. Completing these tasks will improve your process. In all cases, if you have an essay question (or a list to choose from) substitute it for the examples provided and push on with your own assignment. If you want to read through the whole set of posts first and then go back to the tasks, that’s fine – whatever works for you. That’s worth repeating: whatever works for you.
The purpose of this series of blog posts is to outline the process and encourage you to write – badly at first, if necessary. Writing is a skill. To become confident, to make it look easy, takes time and practice. In the meantime, you have essays and assignments to write. Right?
Right, so let’s get writing…