Essays come in many shapes and sizes. Personal narratives, opinion pieces, and factual summaries are just some examples of the types of essays you might write. No matter what kind of essay you are crafting, there are key steps to producing a well-written product.
The first step in writing an essay is to choose your topic. If you are completing an assignment, you already have guidelines. You’ll need to narrow down your topic. If you’ve been asked to write about “Barack Obama,” you might choose the topic “Obama’s First 100 Days in Office.”
Conduct research and take notes before you begin writing an essay. Read articles, online resources and books or talk to others to gain new perspectives.
Every well written essay has a thesis. Essentially, a thesis is “the point” of your essay. What are you explaining or proving? If your topic is “Flexible work arrangements,“ your thesis might be “Employees who have flex schedules or work from home are happier and more productive.”
Writing an essay requires that you organize your thoughts. Once you have a thesis, outline how you plan to prove or illustrate your point. Your outline will capture your key points and sub-topics. It will also help organize the body of your essay. Note in your outline where you wish to include examples or cite certain sources.
Once you’ve defined your topic and thesis, conducted research, and crafted an outline, you are ready to begin writing an essay. Draft your intro, body and conclusion. Use your outline as a guide, but do not reign yourself in when writing. Let the creative process work – you may hit on a key point or example you hadn‘t thought about before!
When you have finished your draft, set it aside. A break clears your head and helps you gain perspective. Return to your work and read your essay objectively. Ask yourself if it flows logically from intro, to various key points, to conclusion.
Peer review is helpful when writing an essay. Have a classmate, co-worker, mentor or friend read your work. Does she understand your thesis? Is she convinced about the point you are trying to prove? Does your essay keep her interest? Get constructive feedback. Make additions and corrections to your essay based on your own review as well as peer feedback.
During the process of writing an essay, you might be too focused on the creative process to pay much attention to grammar and sentence structure. Once you have nailed your content, review your work again, focusing on these issues. Poor sentence structure, grammar or spelling can ruin an essay.
Finally, when writing an essay you must cite your sources. This includes books, articles, online resources and people whose words or ideas you have quoted directly or paraphrased in your essay.
The process of writing an essay begins with research and organization, transitions to the creative act of writing, and then concludes with careful attention to details such as grammar checks and citations. Each step is critical in crafting a well-written essay.