That term might send you running in fear to your latest YA novel. That's certainly my reaction. Um, professor, could I write this in narrative form? What do you mean it's 3000 words long?! What is a critical book review anyways?
On Time Management:
Mastering this is the key to your success. Plain and simple. No matter how good of a writer you are, no good papers are written the night before. Believe me, I've been there. Here's how I
- I gave myself at least a week to write a each paper. That meant if I had two papers due the same day, I started the first one two weeks before the deadline in order to have a week left over for the next paper. Writing is a process, not an event.
- Each day of the week I had a goal that I had to accomplish to stay on track.
Tuesday: write thesis statement/start finding concrete sources to support the paper, write down some page numbers/quotes
Wednesday: get a complete outline with points, sources and quotes
Thursday: start writing
Friday: keep writing
Saturday: finish writing, take a break, start revising
Sunday: finish revising, do a grammar edit, check formatting and record your sources properly.
- Something I learned about daily goals: DO NOT use time goals (e.g. I will write for two hours today), because spending two hours writing does not mean you will have gotten anywhere (and let's be real, an hour of that time will be spent on the internet with your Word document open in the screen beside it).
The tips for this section are a bit harder to pin down, but I'll do my very best. The way you write is the mortar that will connect the bricks of your argument. If you can't coherently present an idea then your brilliant points will be lost. Here's a few tips that contributed to my writing skills.
- I stopped writing the five paragraph essay. This is the first idea that I had to get rid of. Each idea got its own paragraph. Some ideas need to be broken down into more manageable chunks. Paragraphs shouldn't be pages long.
- Every paragraph, sentence and point needs to support the thesis. Every word I wrote needed to relate back to supporting the thesis. It was my job to not only present the points that supported the thesis, but analyze them and explain why they supported the thesis. If you're arguing that dogs are the best pets, it's not enough to just state the evidence that 90% of the families in your city have had multiple dogs*. After using this evidence you need to explain how it supports the thesis. For example: It's clear that families prefer dogs, because they have not only made them a part of their family once, but they've seen the benefits and wanted to increase them by getting another dog. The connection might seem obvious, but always assume the reader won't make the connection.
- Conclusions are not a rehashing of the introduction paragraph. A conclusion should begin with a reworked thesis, but it shouldn't repeat the same information as the introduction. This paragraph should be used as a place to place your argument in the wider world and reiterate the importance of it. The conclusion can also lend itself to be a springboard to larger arguments that can be made about your topic. And yes, this is hard, but if you think about it, you will get it.
*This is made up. I don't discriminate against the cat-lovers out there.
This list is by no means extensive, but I wanted to share a few of my most useful tips. My essay writing skills are always evolving, and I'm ALWAYS learning with every type of paper that I write. Hopefully these tips have helped you a little bit. Let me know your super awesome tricks to getting those coveted "A"s on your essays in the comments.
Reading: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Watching: Gilmore Girls