The Essay Writing Guide: 5 Reasons for FailureAugust 14, 2018

Your admissions tutor would be impressed with your knowledge of the most popular books and their Australian counterparts. Your (admissions) essay on "The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf", and why Ambelin Kwaymullina's novel would be better than Suzanne Collins' bestseller, get praise from your tutor. You were eager to show off that you were a heavy reader, as you penned a comparative essay between "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Jasper Jones". It didn't surprise you that you would receive an unconditional offer. You have been thinking about another comparative paper, between "For Whom the Bells Toll" and "The Far Road", hoping that one of your professors could read your mind. Your excitement and enthusiasm took a nosedive after learning about your not-so-high mark on your essay on "Heart of Darkness". What happened?

It may not have crossed your mind that essay writing would be more than your enviable knowledge of different literary genres and the notable authors and their works. And it would turn out to be THE only reason.

It shouldn't take a month before you realise that you must love the writing process before you would become aware of your (writing) prowess. It includes bouts of procrastination due to writer's block, the inability to cite one specific activity to put you in the (writing) mood, and the desire to go beyond what your professors would expect from you. It may mean giving up your social life for the long hours of reading, as you check out the other titles that didn't make the primary list. The other students (from other departments) could look at you as a recluse while ignoring not-so-esteemed opinion on the B.A. English program. You could have explained about the demanding coursework, but you rather focus on how to improve your essay writing skills.

Excuses That Must Not be Tolerated

Good writers are talented people. There could be a grain of truth behind the statement if the subject is painting, but writing is totally different from it. Your tutor may have noticed your grammatical errors, also your limited vocabulary, in your admissions essays. The technicalities wouldn't be important during the early stage, as your ability to analyse a written text would be given more weight. If your professors have high expectations, then it could be one (and only one) reason. You must prove that your (unconditional) offer wasn't a fluke. The coursework would overwhelm you unless you show determination and perseverance.

Good writers are born. If you believe in this excuse, then you shouldn't be studying in the English Department at all. You're a diamond on a rough, like your coursemates, and you could be a good writer in a year or less. You need to keep on writing, which could turn into a mentally-exhausting activity after the Christmas season. You would be unaware that practice should make it less difficult after a while. This could be one of the signs that you have shown improvement on your writing skills.

There's no need for second thoughts. You never know that you have written a good essay until you have given it a lot of thought. You must rewrite it, possibly doing it again (and again). Some writers call it proofreading, but there's no need to argue about the right term. Your professors expect a polished version.

A last-minute essay gets the highest mark. It should be the opposite. You can't force your mind to conceive thought-provoking statements unless you thrive on the adrenaline that comes during these moments. It won't be worth it, as paper writing is a thorough process. You need time, as you think of an argument that is unheard before. You also need to write it out. (A paper of a few thousand words is not a walk in a park.) And don't forget proofreading.

The night before, all at once. It would be very foolish to do such a thing, as the mind couldn't absorb all the information that you learned from a novel. (And don't ever dream of coming up with a decent paper on a Fyodor Dostoyevsky masterpiece.) Do it by small steps, which seems easier said than done. There would be room for mistakes on your first assignment, which your professor wouldn't mind at all. You must have made progress on your second, if not third, month.

No Need to be Depressed about the Process

The writing process could be a long one if you're aware of the time, if not the days, but it seldom happens. If you show a lot of effort, then it would be hard not to be pleased about the outcome. Good writing would improve your examination results. (It's an essay examination, so you should look forward to it.) Your professors won't remind you that employers would sought out on your (good) writing skills. You would be aware of it sooner or later. And impeccable communication skills and good writing should make you a valuable asset to any company. But you should know that feeling after receiving lots of high marks.

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