Essay Writing Tips
Here are some tips on essay writing that may go against the grain. When people learn how to write essays, they're usually taught to be very organized. They're taught to organize their essay around a thesis, have topic sentences that support the thesis, and have support paragraphs. People are taught to outline their essay in an organized fashion, and to really plan out what they're going to say. I personally find this to be rather stifling to the creative process of writing an essay. Don't get me wrong, it can be effective in terms of organization, but it can also have its limitations.
When I was in high school and middle school, I did the typical outline: thesis, topic sentences, supporting materials, and examples. I actually did quite well on my essays, but I had to spend hours and hours on them. I HATED essay writing with a passion, because I always felt it was some incredibly boring and painful task. Little did I know that the essay writing tips I had learned were ineffective, and that there was a better way to write my essays.
At the core of essay writing are your ideas. You need to have good ideas, come up with connections, and support those connections. Having a formulaic plan to brainstorm your ideas and write the essay will stifle you because you've already defined your parameters. So, here's what I propose: stream of consciousness and free writing. Anytime you feel inspired and are feeling productive, sit down and just start writing your essay. That's it. Write down all of what's on your mind, all of what you want to say, and see what comes down onto the paper. When you're able to get all of your thoughts on paper and just write it out as it comes, then you'll have plenty of good ideas and material to work from.
In college, this was the primary form of essay writing that I used. I would sit down, start writing, and keep going when I felt I was in the zone. More often than not, when you feel inspired and keep writing, a lot of good ideas come out. Most of the best essays I wrote involved writing out all my thoughts when I felt like it, and going back later to organize it.
It is absolutely crucial you organize your thoughts after you write them out. Do not just write an essay and submit it. Use your stream of consciousness writing and free writing to generate your content and ideas(usually the hardest part), and then go back and organize your thoughts. If you have a million thoughts, you can use mindmapping software(I'd recommend MindMeister.com, which offers basic membership including 3 free mind maps). Mindmapping allows you to see and organize your thoughts, and will aid in your essay writing.
In essence, use stream of consciousness and free writing to get your thoughts out onto your paper. Afterwards, organize those thoughts with mindmapping software. You'll thank yourself for it.