Starting your Essay

It is often difficult to begin writing an essay. It can also be very frustrating. If this is happening to you, try one of the following strategies:


1. Review the assignment.

The assignment from your instructor or textbook should help you to understand what topic or topics should be covered and also how to organize those topics. Sometimes, your thesis statement should answer a question asked in the assignment. If you still do not understand what to write, make an appointment with your instructor or an English tutor in the Academic Support Center.

2. Discuss the assignment with someone else.

Talking over an assignment or trying to explain it to someone else may help you understand what you are supposed to do.

3. Try mapping, brainstorming, or freewriting.

Try writing down anything that occurs to you about your topic. Do so without editing your ideas. You might try using bubbles, charts, or other mapping strategies to help you organize and generate new ideas. Finally, look over your ideas to identify ideas that can be used as topics for paragraphs.

4. Divide the task into sections.

We often become overwhelmed by the difficulty or length of a paper assignment. When this occurs, it is easier to divide the assignment into smaller tasks. For example, brainstorm for topics first. Then do body paragraphs one or two at a time. Finally, put all the parts together.

5. Remember the rough draft does not have to be perfect.

Writing can be a lengthy process, and many drafts of an essay are often required in order to accomplish the desired effect. In short, essays don't come out perfect the first time. Use rough drafts to perfect what you are trying to say, and realize that drafts are to be honed and revised.

6. Take a break.

We often do a better job on an essay if we get away from it for a while when frustrated and return to it later with a fresher perspective on what we have written.