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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How To Write Awesome Essays

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Throughout college, I was known as the go-to guy for custom essays fast. A fellow student would come to me with an assignment and a few dollars, and I would put everything together to make one of the best essay grades they ever received. Despite the common assumption, I was not writing these essays for the money. I only insisted on getting paid because I didn't want to look like an idiot. What was the real reason I was writing all these papers for people? I'll get to that later.

Writing essays can be a challenge for many students. I can remember a few of my own nights just staring at a blank screen and struggling to muster up one good idea to write about. It wasn't until I got the hang of a different strategy that my writing started to come naturally.

Most writing prompts that teachers provide are highly restrictive. They tell you some very specific ideas that you're supposed to delve into. This is where a lot of the problems come from...

Awesome Is Unexpected

Forget about strictly following any teacher's prompt. Treat the prompt as a set of rough guidelines. The more strictly you follow those guidelines, the more your paper is going to look just like every other student's paper. Think about how boring that makes writing the paper. (No wonder you can't get the first line.)

Naturally, if a prompt says to provide something very specific like “3 examples” or “10 ideas,” you should follow those instructions. If the paper says write a story about “growing up” then you can go wild and write about virtually anything you want with the slightest bit of planning. That's where the fun can start.

You want to think about the things that you can write about that no one else would have the courage to write. An awesomely written paper isn't just a retelling of the same points everyone else in the class makes, it's something unique.

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This can sometimes lead you down dark alleys of “off-prompt” but that's easy to correct with one conversation. After you finish your awesome but slightly off-prompt paper, figure out how you actually did explore the prompt. If you were supposed to write a story on growing up but you wrote one where the character didn't grow up, you still have a story about growing up. If the teacher asks you just say, “growing up is a choice that is not always made. I figured everyone would be exploring those that had made that choice. I wanted to explore someone you didn't.”

The truth is these assignments aren't science or math. They're up for as much interpretation as you choose to use. Interpretation gives you the choice of doing something that's completely unexpected. You can write about whatever you find most entertaining.

Awesome Is Clean

Unfortunately, a grammatically poor paper is not awesome. It doesn't matter how great your paper's content is, no one will ever appreciate it with significant errors. Grammar is a subject that many students (and adults) struggle with. It's usually a symptom of not reading consistently.

To make this first point quickly: Reading can improve your writing. That's all I'll say because I'm sure you've heard that a million times before.

If you typically struggle with grammar then you should get someone to review the work you do before handing it in. Preferably, you want to get someone that's as harsh a reviewer as possible. If you're miserable at grammar then you want your paper covered in red marks. If it only had a few then you'd have to question how well the person reviewed it. Take the red marks and correct it.

Even if you're a grammatically sound writer, you want to take a few minutes to go over the paper you've written. The more of an awesome paper you write, the less of a challenge this should be. If you have little enthusiasm to go over your own work then you probably need to focus on coming up with a more powerful idea in the future (see the first section.)

Awesome Has Pride

Going over awesome papers you wrote in the past should be easy. It should be kind of like looking at your personal greatest hits. If you're not absolutely gung ho about reading your own paper then you need to find out why. In most cases, it's a symptom of not doing something that's personally powerful.

Notice how I included the word personally. You should not be trying to write a paper to impress your teachers. There is very little reason to assume you have any idea what they really like to see in a paper. You're not a mind reader. The prompt they provide is not necessarily something they'd actually like. The only person that you have access to is yourself.

When you write for yourself you'll notice that everything comes easier. While it may be slightly off of what the teacher wanted, you'll still usually end up ahead of where you would have been struggling to write each line. When you write a paper for yourself if comes more naturally. By the end of that paper, it's going to be a small reflection of yourself.

You should feel proud of the paper you produce. It should be something you'd be willing to frame and hang on your walls (but don't do it. That's just weird.)

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Naturally, there will be times when you'll just feel okay about it. That doesn't mean you have to throw out the paper and start over. Just review the paper and make the best of it. Then ask yourself if you could live with whatever results that paper will provide. If so, hand it in. If not, go back to wherever you veered off course.

The best thing about writing a paper with this method is not the final grade. Sure, when you see the difference writing unexpected can make on your final score, it will become your natural method but it's not the most important reason to do this.

This might sound funny but when you write this way, your final grade doesn't even matter. When you write a paper that your proud of, it doesn't matter how much the teacher appreciates it. You can still be proud of it. The teacher might not always get your genius but you'll be able to sleep well at night knowing you created something awesome. Creating awesome is it's own reward. That's the reason I really wrote those papers. (But the A+'s help.)

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