I’m about to finish writing my last essay of the semester, and I couldn’t be happier. I have never had to write so many essays (6) in such a short amount of time (1 month)…I know there are probably people who have it worse, but this is all new to me!
Here are a few tips that have made my writing process a lot easier this semester when I’ve been stuck on an essay. This isn’t advice that you’ll find on UofT’s Writing website (Check it out if you haven’t — it’s awesome!).
1. Include subtitles:
Your professor or T.A. might tell you that they don’t want to see subtitles in your essay. If they don’t mention it, then I strongly suggest that you use them, especially if you’re writing a paper that’s eight pages or longer. Subtitles focus your thoughts when you’re writing a section, or if you decide to add them at the end, they make it easier to self-edit and pick out unclear or unorganized arguments.
2. Mention the limits of your paper:
a.) If you finish writing a 5,000 word essay an hour before it’s due, go back to edit it, and realize that you’ve left out an important or interesting point, mention it in your paper and note that the topic is beyond the scope of your paper. This one’s a bit tricky — If you think that the addition might disrupt the flow of your paper or sound incomplete, leave it out. The only time this hasn’t worked for me was when I tried to introduce a point that was too weighty to be self-explanatory.
b.) Don’t be afraid to point out the gaps in your essay! If you can explain weak arguments (perhaps there is a lack of research on the topic, for example), you might potentially be able to make them stronger.
3. Think of your target audience:
If you’re short on time, cater your work specifically to your T.A. and professor. Pay attention to the arguments your professor constructs in lectures, their views, beliefs, and their values. If you keep those things in mind while writing, you’ll have an idea of where your arguments need to be stronger and more convincing, and where you might be able to get away with lazier work. Attempt this at your own risk!
Anyway, that’s it. Those are my tips. Happy essay writing, and I wish you the best of luck on your exams!