1 Mezidal

Anybody S Son Will Do Essay Writing

Honestly, throughout most of high school and college, I was a mediocre essay writer.

Every once in a while, I would write a really good essay, but mostly I skated by with B&#;s and A-minuses.

I know personally how boring writing an essay can be, and also, how hard it can be to write a good one.

Writing an essay? Don&#;t pull your hair out. Here are 10 tips to write a great essay. Photo by Stuart Pilbrow (Creative Commons)

However, toward the end of my time as a student, I made a breakthrough. I figured out how to not only write a great essay, I learned how to have fun while doing it.

That&#;s right. Fun.

Why Writing an Essay Is So Hard?

Here are a few reasons:

  • You&#;d rather be scrolling through Facebook.
  • You&#;re trying to write something your teacher or professor will like.
  • You&#;re trying to get an A instead of writing something that&#;s actually good.
  • You want to do the least amount of work possible.

The biggest reason writing an essay is so hard is because we mostly focus on those external rewards like getting a passing grade or our teacher&#;s approval. The problem is that when you focus on external approval it not only makes writing much less fun, it also makes it significantly harder.


Because when you focus on external approval, you shut down your subconscious, and the subconscious is the source of your creativity. What this means practically is that when you&#;re trying to write that perfect, A-plus-worthy sentence, you&#;re turning off most of your best resources.

Just stop. Stop trying to write a good essay (or even a &#;good-enough&#; essay). Instead, write an interesting essay, write an essay you think is fascinating. And when you&#;re finished, go back and edit it until it&#;s &#;good&#; according to your teacher&#;s standards.

Yes, you need to follow the guidelines in your assignment. If your teacher tells you to write a five-paragraph essay, then write a five-paragraph essay! However, within those guidelines, find room to express something that is uniquely you.

I can&#;t guarantee you&#;ll get a higher grade (although, you almost certainly will), but I can absolutely promise you&#;ll have a lot more fun writing.

10 Tips to Writing a Great Essay

Ready to get writing? Here are my ten best tips for having fun while writing an essay that earns you the top grade!

1. Your essay is just a story.

Every story is about conflict and change, and the truth is that essays are about conflict and change, too! The difference is that in an essay, the conflict is between different ideas, the change is in the way we should perceive those ideas.

That means that the best essays are about surprise, &#;You probably think it&#;s one way, but in reality, you should think of it this other way.&#; See tip #3 for more on this.

2. Before you start writing, ask yourself, &#;How can I have the most fun writing this?&#;

It&#;s normal to feel unmotivated when writing an essay. I&#;m a writer, and honestly, I feel unmotivated to write all the time. But I have a super-ninja, judo-mind trick I like to use to help motivate myself.

Here&#;s the secret trick: One of the interesting things about your subconscious is that it will answer any question you ask yourself. So whenever you feel unmotivated to write your essay, ask yourself the following question:

How much fun can I have writing this?&#;

Your subconscious will immediately start thinking of strategies to make the writing process more fun. Here&#;s another sneaky question to ask yourself when you really don&#;t want to write:

How can I finish this as quickly as possible?

Give it a try!

3. As you research, ask yourself, &#;What surprises me about this subject?&#;

The temptation, when you&#;re writing an essay, is to write what you think your teacher or professor wants to read. Don&#;t do this. Instead, ask yourself, &#;What do I find interesting about this subject? What surprises me?&#;

If you can&#;t think of anything that surprises you, anything you find interesting, then you&#;re not searching well enough, because history, science, and literature are all brimmingover with surprises. When you look at how great ideas actually happen, the story is always, &#;We used to think the world was this way. We found out we were completely wrong, and that the world is actually quite different from what we thought.&#;

As you research your essay topic, search for this story of surprise, and don&#;t start writing until you can find it.

(By the way, what sources should you use for research? Check out tip #10 below.)

4. Overwhelmed? Just write five original sentences.

The standard three-point essay is really made up of just five original sentences, surrounded by supporting paragraphs that back up those five sentences. If you&#;re feeling overwhelmed, just write five sentences. Here&#;s what they might look like:

  • Thesis: While most students consider writing an essay a boring task, with the right mindset, it can actually be an enjoyable experience.
  • Body #1: Most students think writing an essay is tedious because they focus on external rewards.
  • Body #2: Students should instead focus on internal fulfillment when writing an essay.
  • Body #3: Not only will focusing on internal fulfillment allow students to have more fun, they will write better essays.
  • Conclusion: Writing an essay doesn&#;t have to be simply a way to earn a good grade. Instead, it can be a means of finding fulfillment.

After you write your five sentences, it&#;s easy to fill in the paragraphs they will find themselves in.

Now, you give it a shot!

5. Be &#;source heavy.&#;

In college, I discovered a trick that helped me go from a B-average student to an A-student, but before I explain how it works, let me warn you. This technique is powerful, but it might not work for all teachers or professors. Use with caution.

As I was writing a paper for a literature class, I realized that the articles and books I was reading said what I was trying to say much better than I ever could. So what did I do? I just quoted them liberally throughout my paper. When I wasn&#;t quoting, I re-phrased what they said in my own words, giving proper credit, of course. I found that not only did this formula create a well-written essay, it took about half the time to write.

When I used this technique, my professors sometimes mentioned that my papers were very &#;source&#; heavy. However, at the same time, they always gave me A&#;s. Like the five sentence trick, this technique makes the writing process simpler. Instead of putting the main focus on writing well, it instead forces you to research well, which some students find easier.

6. Write the body first, the introduction second, and the conclusion last.

Introductions are often the hardest part to write because you&#;re trying to summarize your entire essay before you&#;ve even written it yet. Instead, try writing your introduction last, giving yourself the body of the paper to figure out the main point of your essay.

7. Most essays answer the question, &#;What?&#; Good essays answer the &#;Why?&#; The best essays answer the &#;How?&#;

If you get stuck trying to make your argument, or you&#;re struggling to reach the required word count, try focusing on the question, &#;How?&#; For example:

  • How did J.D. Salinger convey the theme of inauthenticity in The Catcher In the Rye?
  • How did Napoleon restore stability in France after the French Revolution?
  • How does the research prove girls really do rule and boys really do drool?

If you focus on how, you&#;ll always have enough to write about.

8. Don&#;t be afraid to jump around.

Essay writing can be a dance. You don&#;t have to stay in one place and write from beginning to end. Give yourself the freedom to write as if you&#;re circling around your topic rather than making a single, straightforward argument. Then, when you edit, you can make sure everything lines up correctly.

9. Here are some words and phrases you don&#;t want to use.

  • You (You&#;ll notice I use a lot of you&#;s, which is great for a blog post. However, in an essay, it&#;s better to omit the second-person.)
  • Clichés
  • Some
  • That
  • Things
  • To Be verbs

Don&#;t have time to edit? Here&#;s a lightning-quick editing technique.

A note about &#;I&#;: Some teachers say you shouldn&#;t use &#;I&#; statements in your writing, but the truth is that professional, academic papers often use phrases like &#;I believe&#; and &#;in my opinion,&#; especially in their introductions.

It&#;s okay to use Wikipedia, if…

Wikipedia isn&#;t just one of the top 5 websites in the world, it can be a great tool for research. However, most teachers and professors don&#;t consider Wikipedia a valid source for use in essays. However, here are two ways you can use Wikipedia in your essay writing:

  • Background research. If you don&#;t know enough about your topic, Wikipedia can be a great resource to quickly learn everything you need to know to get started.
  • Find sources. Check the reference section of Wikipedia&#;s articles on your topic. While you may not be able to cite Wikipedia itself, you can often find those original sources and site them.

In Conclusion&#;

The thing I regret  most about high school and college is that I treated it like something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do.

The truth is, education is an opportunity many people in the world don&#;t have access to. It&#;s a gift, not just something that makes your life more difficult. I don&#;t want you to make the mistake of just &#;getting by&#; through school, waiting desperately for summer breaks and, eventually, graduation.

How would your life be better if you actively enjoyed writing an essay? What would school look like if you wanted to suck it dry of all the gifts it has to give you?

All I&#;m saying is, don&#;t miss out!

More Resources:

How about you? Do you have any tips for writing an essay?


Use tip #4 and write five original sentences that could be turned into an essay.

When you&#;re finished, share your five sentences in the comments section.

And remember, have fun!

Free Guide: Want to become a writer? Get our free step guide to becoming a writer here and accomplish your dream today. Click here to download your guide instantly.

When I worked in admissions at Duke, I said a lot of things on the recruiting trail that weren’t exactly genuine: “Your combined SAT scores are in triple digits? Apply!” “We can’t get enough kids from northern New Jersey! Apply!” “You got a bunch of C&#;s in high school — at least you got a B in weight-lifting! Apply!”

But I did utter one true sentence: I told applicants that I was an astute reader and could tell the difference between the prose of a year-old girl and that of a year-old man. So don’t, I begged them, let your father write your personal statement for you.

I’d spent a dozen years working as an editor in scholarly publishing before I took a job in admissions. I’m not sure that all my colleagues were such careful readers; some were, I knew, occasionally hoodwinked. But since the essay is not that important a part of the application process, it didn’t really matter.

I emphasized writing the essay in my recruitment trips because by the time I was talking to these kids, that was the only thing within their control. Everything else — grades, course choice, SATs, extracurricular activities — were all done deals.

I wanted them to feel some degree of empowerment over this bruising senior year ordeal. I wanted them to understand that the process of learning to express themselves in clear, concise and lively prose could be an exercise in emotional archeology, an intellectual journey.

But then there were the parents.

Look, some of my best friends are parents. I understand that they want only what’s best for their offspring. This is a good impulse; it keeps the species going. But I’m not sure it’s always the right thing for the children.

When I do college counseling (which I do now mostly for the siblings of students I’ve already worked with), I see the dangerous good intentions these teenagers are up against.

One student kept writing the same bad essay. I labored to explain the fundamentals of good first-person writing: that it contains details that are specific and vivid, that it is honest.

He kept sending me slightly revised versions of the same vague platitudes and “Aren’t I great?” anecdotes. Finally I wrote him a harsh e-mail saying that he just wasn’t getting it. The essay was awful.

He started over, with a completely new topic — one he was passionate about — and it soared. Naturally suspicious and cynical, I asked what had happened. Had he been abducted by aliens? Or had someone else written it for him?

No, he said. This time he didn’t let his dad touch it.

Parents who have raised good kids should trust them. Because the essay is not an essential part of the process, and frankly, because most admissions officers know that they don’t know whose fingerprints are all over it, parental interference — except by people who really do know how to write — can be more demoralizing and divisive than useful.

It’s hard to come up with good topics. Parents who haven’t had the benefit of reading thousands of essays don’t know the clichés of the genre and steer children away from anything that might be “risky,” though essays that deal with hard stuff — sex, drugs, religion, family strife — are often the most affecting.

I can understand how difficult it is for parents not to be able to advise their children. But in this case, my advice is to step back and let them express themselves. If you’ve done a good job, so will they.

Ms. Toor is an assistant professor of creative writing at Eastern Washington University and the author of &#;Admissions Confidential: An Insider&#;s Account of the Elite College Selection Process.&#;

What are your thoughts on the notion of &#;parental interference,&#; and where to draw the lines between applicant, and parent of the applicant? Please use the comment box below to let us know.

In &#;Tip Sheet,&#; The Choice periodically posts short items by admissions officers, guidance counselors and others that might help applicants and their families better understand aspects of the admissions process. Click here for an archive of essays in this series.

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *