As a tutor has said (Creme and Lea, 1997 p41): ‘When my students ask me about essay writing, there are three main pieces of advice that I give them. The Mini Guide: Essay terms explained, and Questions to ask about interpreting essay titles may be useful.To start you off, and to minimise the likelihood of writer’s block, a useful exercise is to do a ‘brainstorm’ of all your ideas in connection with the essay title. It can be much less stressful to throw all your thoughts down on paper, before you start trying to find answers to these questions.
Essentially, this is what you are doing within the essay process: breaking ideas down, then building them up again.
You need to: Throughout this process, the essay title is the single immovable feature.
However, even in those essays that appear to be highly creative, unscientific, or personal, an argument of some kind is being made.
It is the argument, and how you decide to present and back up your argument, that will influence your decision on how to structure your essay.
Instead, you can catch all of your ideas, in no particular order, on a sheet or two of A4.
Once they are down there it will be easier for you to start to review them critically and to see where you need to focus your reading and note taking.
Again this may be strong and obvious, or it may be almost invisible, but it needs to be there.
In different subject areas, and with different styles of writing, the term ‘argument’ may seem more or less relevant.
You begin there; you end there; and everything in between needs to be placed in relation to that title.
All three of the processes described above will inform your decisions about what you need to read for a particular essay.