Essays are not a beloved part of student life. Ubiquitous almost from the point you learn to write in complete sentences, almost no one escapes them before graduation. And there are plenty of career paths where you won’t be free of the dreaded essay even then. So it’s worth learning a few tricks to improve your skills. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice.
Trick 1: Have a work space.
An essay is a time commitment. You need to have a comfortable, dedicated space to help you focus. For some people, that’s an office with their desk and some bookshelves and a white noise machine. For others, it’s a cafe where they feel set apart from the distractions and multitasking at home. Find what works for you.
Trick 2: Use 20/10s.
The term is from UfYH, a housekeeping blog, but the concept is great for any mental work too. Work twenty minutes, rest ten. Walk around a bit, have a snack, stretch. Just remember to go right back to work when your break is over. Measuring your progress in the working portion is good too; you can try to beat your previous word count.
Trick 3: Find a focus for your essay.
It can be an inspiring quote, or a particularly good source, or the point you want to prove (AKA your thesis statement). Use it to write the bare bones outline for your essay, then flesh it out with more sources. (A note: Wikipedia is useful to find sources. Just scroll to the bottom of any relevant article. It’s a pretty weak source itself, however, and many teachers still won’t accept it.)
Trick 4: Write concisely.
Teachers can tell if you’re using wordy vocabulary just to pad your word count and not to enhance your points. Like changing the sizes of your fonts and margins, they’ve seen it before, and you won’t get away with it.
Trick 5: Save often, save early, and save everywhere.
You can recover a document on almost any program you choose as a word processor these days, but it’s still a sound practice. Computers have been a solid part of essay writing for decades now. No teacher out there is going to accept “My computer crashed and I lost my essay” as an excuse.
Good luck, writers!