Pre-Writing

Wow, I can't believe you're still here. I love you, you're great. Let's continue! How do we go about actually typing words on the screen?

September 16, 2020

Pre-Writing

A Few Quick Tips While You’re in the Pre-Writing Phase

Partial Source: Shemmassian, Academic Consulting

So we know what to avoid and we have an outline of what our essay should look like. It’s like 9pm (it’s literally almost 9pm right now), we’re in front of the laptop screen, and the cursor is blinking at us. How do we go about this rough draft?

 

1.  Start early

I don’t care if you’re applying regular decision and your application isn’t due until like, February. Start in October or earlier. If you’re applying early decision, you need to start now if you haven’t yet. I’m so serious.

Give yourself time to really come up with a good topic to write about, time to break up your essay into sections if you must, and especially time to revise, edit, and have other people read it.

2. Lists are your best friend

No matter what the prompt is, make a list for it if you don’t have an automatic thought that pops into your head in the first five seconds, and no more than that. If the topic isn’t so significant that you hear it in your head that fast, you should pull up options.

If it’s an identity prompt, make a list of hobbies, sports, memories, etc. in your life that you believe were significant in shaping you into the person you are today.

If it’s a challenge/setback/failure prompt, think about yourself as a person and the mindset you hold. Make a list. Has this mindset been shaped by moving schools, a disability, or a mental health issue? How did you overcome/how are you overcoming this setback? There are many options, everyone is different. Make a list.

If it’s a questioned/challenged a belief/idea prompt… honestly there aren’t too many of these unless you’ve just been in these situations a lot. MAKE A LIST.

I’m sure y’all get the point so we’ll move on.

3. Try starting from the end and working your way back up

This doesn’t work for everybody, however some might find this helpful. In this case, think of it like writing a very lopsided English essay. Figure out the point you want to get across, and write the conclusion of your essay from that (because remember, you’re not writing your “thesis” in the beginning).

Once you’ve written that conclusion, think about how you want to address the point. A specific memory, a timeline of how you came to love something, etc. Think about the details you want to share, and write your “body paragraphs” from that.

After you’ve finished all of that, you can determine how you’d like to introduce this topic. Now this is easier said than done, but very effective. I’d personally do this if I truly had no clue how to start. It requires you to think harder, because you’re connecting everything from the bottom up and breaking it all into sections, rather than writing from beginning to end.

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