April 29, 2016, by Charlie Porter
Stages of Writing an Essay
I have been in complete essay mode over the last month, writing an accumulative total of 18,000 words. Now that I’ve emerged on the other side, I think it’s safe to say I’ve become relatively well-versed in the stages of writing an essay…
First of all, there’s the Planning stage. A teacher once told me that you can’t do anything without a plan, so it’s only befitting that you should create one for your essay too. So you plan. You plan to make a plan. Then you make a plan of your plan, before you actually make the real plan – that in itself is a solid two day’s work.
Next, we move on to ‘An Attempt’. This often involves opening the Word doc in front of you and staring at it for a good few hours. You may write down the title; perhaps even the date. Some of us even manage to string a few sentences together but the majority of us never get far. Defeated, we save what little effort we’ve made into a folder and vow to return to it in the morning.
And thus begins ‘The Keyboard Mash.’ You wake up feeling energized Inspiration surges through your body and flow through your fingertips. You have never been more motivated in your life. Words pour onto the page; Times New Roman font tumbles on line upon line and you keep going until you just about scrape the 10% marker of your word count. You read through it. Every line starts with something that sounds like “furthermore”, “this led to” or “I then realised” and there’s about three “however’s” in every paragraph but at least you’ve got an essay… or the framework at least.
The Second Read-Through is always a challenge. When you look over what you’ve written you’re not actually sure what it was you were trying to say. There are ideas there, yes, and you’ve written some killer lines but in what context? Sometimes you’ll look at it and wonder if you’ve even written in English.
It’s natural to get to the Loss of Hope stage. Your deadline is probably not too far off, you feel like you’ve lost the ability to write and you may even begin to doubt whether you’ll ever graduate university. Fear not – we’ve all been there. Nothing a good nap and a cup of tea can’t solve. You’ll soon…
…Rise from the Ashes. You won’t let the tyranny of this essay defeat you, so you come back with a vengeance. You tear the limbs off of lengthy paragraphs and show no mercy to Microsoft Word’s red and blue squiggly lines. “However’s” and “although’s” and “thus concludes” are cut down in their path to make way for the Thesaurus and all its majesty. From the flames of your worry and your doubt, a new essay will rise – bigger, better and perhaps worthy of a 2:1.
You’re getting close to the finish line so may fall into a False Sense of Security. “It’s okay,” you say, “I’ve pretty much finished this essay. I’ll finish it off tomorrow.” But don’t celebrate too early, even if you are on the guest list for Crisis. It’s not over until it’s over.
You’ve got to add those Finishing Touches. Touching up those last few details. Sprinkling the icing sugar on the cake. Making sure you’ve double spaced and numbered your page – and don’t forget the title page. You’re so close now, you can almost taste it.
And then, the final stage: The Hand-In. Whether you have to march to uni, your essay in hand, or you upload a file onto Moodle, The Hand-In is always nerve-wrecking. As you’re about to hand it over a sudden wave of panic rushes over you. Am I ready? you think. Did I remember to change that spelling mistake… Do I have to print it out again? Take the leap – you are free now.