How (not) to write an essay

The worst thing about beginning any essay is, of course, the blank page. You start off with a nice empty Word document open in front of you. You’ve written tentative notes on various pieces of paper. You have a very sketchy essay plan. You’ve got all the library books you (think you) need.  You’ve printed out all the pdfs of various bits of academic musings from journals which look impressive enough to use. You have even written the title of the essay and congratulated yourself that you’ve now got approximately 10-20 words already.  Great.  Now only 3,980 to go.  Give or take the 10% rule. But you just….can’t………ars bothered.

Everything is ready…but am I?!

So off you go, just for a couple of minutes surfing the net, because it’s not quite 10am yet, which is the time that you’d given yourself to have started by, all ready to get going. Or you may decide to pretty up your wall planner with useless stickers (but at least it looks good). And then you just have to take a peak at that ‘news’ website which you wouldn’t admit to reading in your wildest dreams. And then after you’ve bought the latest boots/makeup/dog treats you’re that much poorer and it’s 3 hours later.

So with a big sigh you make a tentative start. And then suddenly – amazingly – you’re in the flow. That wonderful moment when everything just clicks. You’ve found a great argument for your essay, you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.  You even find the perfect reference to support your argument and bingo, img_0220you just have to write and write.

And if you’re extremely lucky you’ll still be happy with what you’ve written when you re-read it the next day.  Of course if you’re very unlucky you’ll realise that it was complete rubbish and assign it to the ‘what the hell was I thinking’ pile in the trash folder. And that folks, is what’s called writing an essay Debsadac style.

This is what I should be doing….


This is what I am doing…note the slightly manical expression


I’ve now accepted the way that I work when it comes to writing an essay. It’s seen me through all my studies and it’s never changed so it works for me. I’m like an old engine of some sort, wearily cranking myself up during the morning, slowly getting up a bit of speed by lunchtime and then hurrah I hit my stride usually around 4 to 5pm which is peak time for me. Then I have a very productive couple of hours until I suddenly hit a wall of mental tiredness. I get more done in that last couple of hours than I have all day, but I need those less prolific hours to slowly get me into that essay writing flow.

This blog post has been written (of course) whilst I should have been writing my latest essay. For essay avoidance I’m sure I’d get a distinction every time. But at least I’ve written this productively and not been online shopping. There is still time however…….


4 thoughts on “How (not) to write an essay

  1. Love this! I am in this place right now and I have over 1000 words to cut but all the words seem to me to need to be right where they are. It is doing my head in!! Good luck with the rest of yours!


    1. Oh no I feel your pain! It’s not easy when you’re happy with what you’ve written and just can’t seem to press the delete button. Good luck with yours too!


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