How to Start Writing an Essay

Writing Tutorial

How to Start Writing an Essay


We all know how hard it can be to transfer the thoughts in your head onto the paper on your desk. Especially when your grade depends on it.

Sample Problem

Thoughts and ideas can get jumbled up on your head and you may be at a loss as to where to begin. This can be stressful as the clock continues ticking but the cursor on your page stays blinking where it is.


Step One: Just start writing.
Write on your class notes, write on blank paper, write in crazy shapes and connect things with crazy lines. It doesn’t matter if the information you write is important or coherent to others, as long as you know what you’re writing. Make connections between your notes and a joke you heard on the internet. Circle words you don’t know and write in the definition in the margin. Highlight interesting things and figure out why they interest you. Once you’ve finished, you may move on to the next step.

Step Two: Organize your incoherent notes.
Get a fresh piece of paper or open a brand new document on your computer and start writing out your notes. They don’t have to make sense to others yet, as long as they make sense to you. Figure out what these points have in common. See if you can split your notes into three different groups, and come up with titles for those groups. It can help your essay later on if you add direct quotes from your notes in at this step. Make sure you add where those quotes came from as you add them to your three groups.

Step Three: Clean up.
This might feel like the same old boring essay writing you were trying to escape, but with all your notes and quotes already laid out for you, you’re already halfway there. If you left your notes in bullet points or partial sentences, now’s your time to expand those into full sentences. Make sure to have a thesaurus handy at this point to flower it up. Remember those titles you created for the three groups of notes? Those are the base for your topic sentences for your three body paragraphs. Embed your quotes in your paragraph, three or more per paragraph. When in doubt, add quotes.

Step Four: Turn it into an essay.
Without realizing it, you have created your essay. Now, you have to make it look like an essay. Add your transitional phrases, formulate an introduction and conclusion. It might seem strange to write your introduction last, but you’ll find it much easier than writing an introduction for an essay you haven’t read. Once you have five paragraphs full of notes and connections and quotes and transitions, congratulations, you have created an essay.

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