Essay writing can be a challenge, especially when you're out of practice. Even a year away from academic work can leave you staring at a blank page, wondering how you used to be able to write thousands of words with (relative!) ease. Don't worry - we've got some great tips to get you started.
Write Something This sounds obvious, but here's the kicker - it doesn't have to be good. The worst thing in the world for essay writing is having nothing written down, because it's so easy to get worked up over. Instead, just write something. It can be a brief sentence stating what you intend to do, or just a fact about the subject you can remember. The important thing is that you stop looking at the page as blank, and start tricking yourself that you know what you're doing.
Plan Ahead Some people can launch into essays with little to no planning, and that's great for them. For the rest of us mere mortals, even a sketchy outline is useful for ensuring you stay on track and focused. It doesn't have to be too detailed - even just bullet points on key arguments counts!
Take Breaks Your mind will get tired and you will get worried if you keep going at it for too long. Schedule regular breaks and do something away from the essay for a while - go for a nice walk, or sit down for some food. The important thing is to distract yourself, because you'll often find coming back to the essay with fresh eyes will make it a whole lot easier!
Talk to People Tutors will often say to come in during their office hours or email them if you have any questions.
Take advantage of this ! See if they can look over your initial plan and discuss it with you. Whilst they almost certainly won't be able to look through the actual essay, plans are usually fine. And who better to give you some feedback than the person in charge, right?
Ask for Help If you're really stumped, many universities offer courses or short workshops on how to write essays. It's a skill not everyone picks up - after all, it tends to come up most after you've started university - and they're aware of that. Email your welfare rep if you're not sure where to start looking. Learning the basics all over again (or for the first time if you've been winging it!) is a surefire way to get better.
Useful Links How to decide on a topic for your postgrad thesis
How to edit your own postgraduate writing
Planning your postgrad revision How to productively procrastinate as a postgrad
Basic essay writing skills for postgrads