Here are the steps that are usually described as necessary when preparing to write an essay:
- Choosing the Topic
- Taking a Stand and Stating it in the Thesis
- Doing the Appropriate Research
- Writing an Outline
- Writing the Body of the Essay
- Maybe Writing a Conclusion (depending on your style or your professor’s requirement)
Now, this sounds to me like a whole lot of work. But, let’s face it, it most likely will need to be done, and again, most likely, will take you hours to complete.
Do you have a choice? Is there an alternative for a guy or gal who just needs an essay done quickly and more or less painlessly, especially if it’s for a less-than interesting or community service essay important class? You may be thinking: “Yes, there is – I’ll just buy one from one of those essay-writing service companies.” This is not exactly what I had in mind, quite frankly.
No – there is an ethical way to writing an essay without spending hours researching and trying to pull stuff out of your you-know-what, or paying someone else to do it. Having someone else write your essay is intellectually and just humanly dishonest. And even if they tell you it will be ‘free of plagiarism,’ just be aware that passing someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism by definition.
So, what are you to do, then? Here is one simple step to cut your essay-writing time in half:
Pick a topic that you know best.
That’s it. Just pick one that your brain already has the most info about. For example, if you give me a choice of the following three essay topics, which one do you think I’ll choose?
- Wars can (or cannot) sometimes be justified.
- Consumer confidence has (or has not) changed drastically in the past few years.
- Essay writing is (or is not) the biggest pain for most college students.
So, which one do you think would be my top choice? You probably guessed it correctly. Yes, the one about essay writing. Why? Well, because this is my area of expertise, and I could write fifty essays about it without doing any research on the Internet. I simply have enough material in my head to do it.
I think that you’ll find this advice pretty straightforward and obvious. But you’d be surprised at how many students don’t take full advantage of this information. And why is that? Perhaps, because they don’t know how to utilize it and make it most effective. And I’ll give you the key action steps to make this stuff work for you in a second. But first, let’s look back at our list I presented in the beginning, and see how this simple step of choosing a topic that you know best can help you shorten each of those traditional steps:
- Choosing the Topic – well, you know what to do here. If you know nothing about golf, don’t choose to write about it.
- Taking a Stand and Stating it in the Thesis – this will be so much easier when you know your topic. And make sure you take the stand that you really believe in. Trust me, your professor will not care if your view contradicts his. Besides, he can’t give you a grade based on some kind of a bias.
- Doing the Appropriate Research – here’s the most time-consuming part. If you choose the topic you are most familiar with and state a point you’re passionate about, then you will either be able to do very little research, or just skip it altogether.
- Writing an Outline – if you’ve read my other articles and been on my blog (mentioned below this article), then you know that if you write a good thesis statement, you won’t need to create an outline – your thesis statement will be your outline. And it will be easy to write it if you’ve chosen the topic you know well.
- Writing the Body of the Essay – this is, of course, the meat of essay writing, if you will. It will be so much easier and faster (probably twice as fast) when you know your topic.
- Maybe Writing a Conclusion (depending on your style or your professor’s requirement) – you could even skip this step, as I’ve mentioned in my other articles here and on my blog.
And now, I’d like to give you a few tips and simple action steps to make this work for you:
- Take the list of topics given by your professor and choose the one you know most about. If nothing appeals to you as familiar enough, try to suggest your own topic to your professor – chances are he will approve it.
- If your professor didn’t provide you with such a list, it’s even better – just come up with your own, based on some topic you know well already, and okay it with your professor.
- Take a stand that is aligned with what you believe in your heart.
- And a key tip: build your argument around your own logic rather than lots of evidence from the outside sources. Provide your own argumentation rather other people’s. This will feel liberating and will allow you to write pages without interrupting yourself to refer to the Internet.
- Finally, do this a few times. Practice makes perfect. You’ll be amazed at how much good and structured knowledge had been hiding in the depths of your mind.
Happy writing life,
Philip Saparov taught college-level composition at the City University of New York.
Today he focuses on making essay writing quick, easy, and fun for college students all over the world.