STEP 4: Do the maths
Having an essay plan has two major benefits to the quality of your writing. The first is that it keeps you on topic and stops you from running out of things to write about because you’re not trying to write off the top of your head. It’s like having a clear map of your journey towards a destination. If each bullet point is roughly a paragraph, all you have to do is work your way through the list in sequence and mark each section off as you finish it!
The second benefit is less obvious and really comes into play if you have a word limit. All you have to do is take the word limit and divide it by the number of bullet points you have and that will tell you approximately how much you have to write for each paragraph. This can make a 2000 word essay seem much less daunting as each paragraph is usually less than 200 words each!
Taken a step further, if you have a week to write the essay you can divide the number of word total by the number of days and that will tell you how many paragraphs a day you need to do.
STEP 5: Wright, write, right.
This step is called ‘Wright, write, right’ because drafting your essay properly takes these three stages.
“Wright” is Old English and means someone who is a carpenter or builder. The best thing to do when beginning your first draft is to just begin. Follow your essay plan and just get the information down without worrying about spelling or paragraphing etc. What is most important at this stage is building a draft to work with and craft into
an essay. When you have a first draft, you can then begin the “writing” stage. This is when you start looking at things like how well the essay flows from one idea to another and if your argument is clear or needs more supporting evidence, and if your grammar and punctuation is correct. Before computers, writers would take a copy of their work
and cut the paragraphs up to experiment with different flows, and then paste them together when they were satisfied.
Once you are happy with the structure and flow of your essay and think you have made the best of your argument, you are ready to “right” it. Go back through and actually read the essay yourself. Don’t rely on spell check! All three versions of “wright, write, right” are correct, but they mean very different things and spell checker won’t pick the mistake up!
Many students make the mistake of trying to start by writing the introduction. Believe it or not, it is best to write the introduction later, perhaps around the time you write the conclusion. You are far more likely to get the essay done and to a higher standard by beginning with the body of the work rather than agonizing over the perfect first sentence.
So these are all the steps I wanted to share with you. In the next post, I will give you some bonus resources and tips, stay tuned!