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5 steps to perfecting your college essays

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Another day brings another college essay!

While essays can seem daunting at first there are many ways to make the process easier and enjoyable! Whether it’s a one-page essay or a 20-page paper, here are a few tips on how to make sure it is your best.

Create an outline: When writing an essay, it is important to make sure all the part of your essay flow together. Whether that’s uniting your different sections together (like your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion), connecting your analysis with your information or generally putting together a well-written piece, it’s important to have a plan before you begin writing. The best way to do this is to map out an outline and make a chart of what you want to include in each section of your essay. This outline can also be a great place to plan out what quotes and sources you want to highlight your essay’s different sections. Also, an outline can be the perfect place to start thinking about your paper’s overall message or what themes you want to flow throughout your piece. By outlining, you will know what you want your essay to be about and how you want to organize your information.

30-second rule: The thirty-second rule is a method used to help release your inner creativity by removing the feeling of immediate perfectionism (a feeling us Type As know too well lol) as you write your first draft. I learned this lesson from the YouTube video Writer’s Block Instant Cure. This method is used to overcome the initial feelings that you can’t write your essay well or that you aren’t in the mood to write. How it works is you make an agreement with yourself to start writing for about 30-second and to not judge your writing. In those 30-second you try your hardest to write down your ideas and begin your rough draft. If you find that after 30-seconds you are still struggling to write then it’s time to take a break and you should plan to come back to it later. If you find that you are suddenly in a great writing flow and know what you want to write next after 30-seconds then …problem solved!

Red pen editing: Getting out a colored pen and marking up your writing is a great way to teach yourself your mistakes and make your edits stick out during the editing process. The most commonly chosen color is red, but feel free to choose a different color if you prefer (especially if, like most writers, red brings back haunting memories). After grabbing your pen go through every word of your essay and make sure it is the one you want. I often find that the first draft is a good foundation for your ideas, but during editing, you can perfect your phrasing. It’s important to remember qualities you enjoy reading in other work and embrace creativity, clarity, and consistency throughout your work. By checking every word and every punctuation mark, you can make sure you present your ideas in an impactful way.

Let yourself talk: Another great way of editing your essay is to read it out loud as a final run through. This way you can focus in on the flow of every word in your essay. It’s also important to check that the sound of the essay is natural and that your intended message is the one being conveyed. If you find yourself in a setting where speaking your writing out loud isn’t ideal, simply mouthing your writing and reading it in your head is a nice backup option.

Find a friend: As I’ve gone through school, I have found that one great way to learn about writing and editing is by reading and editing other’s essays. By doing this, you learn about grammar and get exposed to a variety of storytelling methods. While it’s never a good idea to copy someone’s work, reading different writing styles and practicing your editing on other work is a great way to learn. Also if you’re struggling to write or get started, a good friend can be a great source of motivation to encourage you to begin and to continue working hard.

 

Now that you know the steps to writing a perfect paper, go out and get started! And know you have the power of Type As supporting you!

 

 


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