How to Start Writing a High School Essay

You may have been lead to believe that writing essays (or any other school activity) is a difficult, high-pressure task. However, essays are some of the easiest, most fulfilling types of papers to write in school or in any situation that calls for an essay. Here’s why:

At its heart, an essay is simply an expression of your opinions on a subject or issue. How often do you get to express your true thoughts and feelings at length in school? Essay assignments give you the chance to show your teachers and fellow students who you really are by telling them at length and in a well thought out manner how you feel about a topic.

Essay assignments are especially meaningful when you get to choose your subject or issue. However, even if your teacher assigns a topic, you’ll have the opportunity to explore and discover how you feel about the new topic. This could change your life or a reader’s life.

Getting Started

1. If you get to choose your topic, choose well.

Choose something that matters to you and to which you feel you have a valuable, thought-provoking contribution to make. Your thoughts and feelings should evoke responses in readers.

2. Jot down any thoughts, feelings, ideas, or research leads you think of regarding your topic.

Brainstorm, “write down the bones,” and just let it pour out at this point. Don’t worry about form, format, grammar, or word count at this point. Don’t worry about what others will think. Just write honestly and passionately about your topic.

3. Begin formally researching your chosen topic or the assigned topic.

This is a fine time to find people who have experience with your topic or who are interested in it. Talk to people. Ask questions. Find out how people feel about it and what resources they recommend. Use your local library, college library, the Internet, and any other resource that presents itself via your research path.

4. Combine your passionate notes with your researched information and references into a properly formatted, well-written, and clearly-expressed polished essay.

5. Before you turn it in or read it aloud in front of the class, have several people read it.

Make changes that make sense. You might pass the essay on to some of the people you spoke to during your research period. Ask readers if your essay makes sense, if you lost them anywhere, or if you missed any important arguments. This step can make a big difference in the integrity of your finished essay.

Essays are some of the simplest papers to write. The process is straight forward. Once you’ve gone through it, repeating for future essays will go even more smoothly.


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