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Essays

Grumblecake

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I've got a problem. Essay assignments in school have always been extremely difficult for me, and I can't figure out why. Even if the subject is something I'm interested in, I have trouble finding the right words to write. I have problems with words in general. When I started reading these threads, I was sort of surprised at how well most of you are able to communicate and express your thoughts and ideas. It's always been a huge issue for me. I'll spend hours working on an essay or journal entry or forum post and get almost nowhere. Writing is one of the few things that doesn't come naturally to me, so I get frustrated when I'm not able to come up with something brilliant without any effort and I lose focus. Has anyone had similar problems?
 

nemo

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I can't say I have, writing has been something that I can do. I do think I have the same problem as you in speaking though. I suck at articulating my thoughts, and saying what I want to say.

Do you read a lot? I always thought it was because I read so much that my writing was okay, but then I met book-lovers with atrocious spelling and grammar, which proved me wrong. Reading might improve your writing though - it's not boring, and easy to try.

The only advice I guess I can give you is to practice, and practice, and practice. But if you're anything like me, you won't have the patience for that. *sigh* I'm sorry for not being much help; I'm sure there are many others out there that can help you with this; on this forum, in your school, in the world. =]
 

Latro

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I've learned a fairly specialized writing style for lab reports, which don't really need to sound pretty. More original sorts of writing, like research papers for gen ed classes or even more so opinion papers or fiction, do not come easily to me.
 

Da Blob

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To tell you the truth, I got to the point that I just "cheated' on essay writing. I did not plagiarize - I just quit giving it my best effort, once I had a professor tell me I had written an excellent essay - but he didn't really have time to read it, thoughtfully, as he had 25 other essays yet to grade... At that point my goals changed from trying to write original material that might be thought-provoking to just handing in something that the instructor would approve of...

Sometimes I would just go to one of the "Quotations" websites for inspiration and look up the topic of the assignment, then write in response to the quotes listed. I would not copy the notable quotes i would just use them as springboards to develop my own opinion or POV on the subject matter. Of course there would always be one or two really pertinent quotes that could be included in the essay.

Again, instead of trying to create a work of art, when writing an essay there is less pressure if one just uses some type of formula/heuristic to give the teacher only what he or she expects - another essay to grade... I think that is the basic challenge to be a successful writer in all fields, the ability to keep the reader's perspective in mind while writing and to write something that a particular audience will enjoy reading. It is perhaps similar to the dilemma of performing to a live audience. One must play to the audience...
 

Darby

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I can write (although my ACT and SAT would say differently), and a majority of the things I write I don't bother to draft, but it is not something I enjoy. I used to read alot, when I was really young, but I got made fun of for being the only person who could read in my class for years, and I stopped. I have terrible grammar, but for the years I should have learned all those things I went to an alternative school where nobody believed in trying, or teaching. I just got back into reading a few years ago, and I'm still having a hard time remembering to bring my book everywhere. I don't think reading has helped me, I failed english my sophomore year (in highschool, and it was because I never turned anything in, not because I couldn't write) and they put me in a remedial reading class ( I guess if you don't write your not supposed to be able to read?) I took the initial reading comprehension placement and got out of it. I have never understood the structure for writing, it doesn't make any sense to keep saying the same crap over and over and over again. This post is longer than a majority of my papers.

I may not be helping, but I think all you really need is practice, reading just gave me therrible vocabulary I have. One technique I use when I bother to start writing my paper in a timely manner is to write it, as best you can, and then pinpoint a certain phrase that doesn't sit well with you, and change it, and then look at everything else and make sure nothing is conflicting and that it flows ok, and then move on to another phrase that just doesn't look right.
 

Ermine

is watching and taking notes
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Yeah, it's all about practice, having a wide vocabulary, and using a structured format, generally sticking to the intro-body-conclusion structure.

I also have an issue with coming up with things to say. In a timed 40 minute essay, I probably spend 15-20 minutes brainstorming.
 

del

Randomly Generated
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Another thing that helps is reading everything you can get your hands on.

I dated a writer who would just gobble up any written material in the vicinity. Newspapers, magazines -- it didn't matter. She said that keeping words on her mind at all times helped her write.
 

sagewolf

Badass Longcat
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When I had essay assignments (always a choice between a story and what you seem to actually be talking about: here's a statement, now pick a side and defend it), I dithered and thought and procrastinated and refused to settle on a basic topic or plot for the entire week, before I finally sat down on the last night and wrote it in about two-three hours, depending on the length of the essay. Coming up with ideas is my problem, and expressing those ideas I actually find quite easy in comparison. What you wrote above is a fairly high standard of writing, from what I can tell, so don't worry: you can write.

Are you having trouble organising your thoughts, or finding the words in the first place, or getting them down on the page? One of my friends in high school typed all her essays out on the computer first: she had to copy them out by hand afterward, but she found it easier to write on the computer. It might help you too, since you could edit the text more easily than if you just write it out.

Most importantly, though, even if you think what you're writing is awful, write it. You can fix it up afterward, organise it into paragraphs by topic, fix grammatical errors, and all of that after the words are actually down on the page in the first place. Hope that helps. :D
 

ckm

still swimming
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To tell you the truth, I got to the point that I just "cheated' on essay writing. I did not plagiarize - I just quit giving it my best effort, once I had a professor tell me I had written an excellent essay - but he didn't really have time to read it, thoughtfully, as he had 25 other essays yet to grade... At that point my goals changed from trying to write original material that might be thought-provoking to just handing in something that the instructor would approve of...

Sometimes I would just go to one of the "Quotations" websites for inspiration and look up the topic of the assignment, then write in response to the quotes listed. I would not copy the notable quotes i would just use them as springboards to develop my own opinion or POV on the subject matter. Of course there would always be one or two really pertinent quotes that could be included in the essay.

Again, instead of trying to create a work of art, when writing an essay there is less pressure if one just uses some type of formula/heuristic to give the teacher only what he or she expects - another essay to grade... I think that is the basic challenge to be a successful writer in all fields, the ability to keep the reader's perspective in mind while writing and to write something that a particular audience will enjoy reading. It is perhaps similar to the dilemma of performing to a live audience. One must play to the audience...
You stole the words right out of my mouth (fingertips) and made it sound better than I would have.

Once I realised I could do okay without much effort as well as excellent with a lot of it, I stopped putting any real effort into my essays.
 

Grumblecake

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Thanks for all the responses! I've been reading threads on this forum for quite a while, but until now I've been too intimidated to post anything. :cat:

I think my problem is a lot like Darby's. I've always hated structured writing, especially with length requirements. Often I'll focus too much on how many words I'm using rather than what I'm saying, and I don't get anything done. I'm also much more of a perfectionist in writing than in other subjects. I see my what I write down as a reflection of my intelligence. I can't stand to turn something in that I'm not pleased with, but that's what I almost always do. I'd rather not write anything than write something stupid. I suppose I'll just have to get over that.

I do read a lot, mostly non-fiction. I've found that reading books written in an unfamiliar style have helped improve my writing the most.

I appreciate the advice. I look forward to being a part of the forum.

Hm.. I started just about every sentence in this post with "I." I need to work on that.
 

Scourgexlvii

Kind of like Batman... but completely different
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I think my problem is a lot like Darby's. I've always hated structured writing, especially with length requirements. Often I'll focus too much on how many words I'm using rather than what I'm saying, and I don't get anything done. I'm also much more of a perfectionist in writing than in other subjects. I see my what I write down as a reflection of my intelligence. I can't stand to turn something in that I'm not pleased with, but that's what I almost always do. I'd rather not write anything than write something stupid. I suppose I'll just have to get over that.
same here. That's why I like writing fiction. No one can say what it's 'supposed' to be, and it's interesting for me, so I get more focused on what I'm writing than the length.
 

Infinite Regress

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For every statement you make, back it up with examples/facts and explain - its universal criteria for essays.
 

Kassie

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My problem is a lot lie Sagewolf's. Actually writing the essay usually isn't the problem, it's settling on an idea that kills me. I'll usually be completely indecisive until our last day or two in the library, then I'll decide and write it fairly quickly. Another problem I sometimes have is that I tend to go off on tangents in my papers when I really shouldn't, even though I think it's completely relevant.

My writing used to be pretty bad, but I had a couple teachers that helped with it, and now I'm on speech team as well, which also helps. I'm doing extemporaneous, and I'm not doing too bad for this being my first year.:)
 

Minuend

pat pat
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I'm very fond of writing. But not exceptionally good at it. But I think I could be better if I had more practice. And if someone gave me more specific feedback. I do have a lot of grammatical errors, which I find odd considering I was very good at it 2- 3 years ago. Or maybe they're just more strict now. It was easier to write back in the days too. I feel that my English was better back then. Writing came automatically. Now I struggle more, and my sentences looks forced and random. But, by writing here, I predict my English will become better.


I'm also much more of a perfectionist in writing than in other subjects. I see my what I write down as a reflection of my intelligence. I can't stand to turn something in that I'm not pleased with, but that's what I almost always do. I'd rather not write anything than write something stupid. I suppose I'll just have to get over that.
I have this problem too. All academic effort is a reflection of my intelligence. It's quite tiring. But I'm working on it.

Hm.. I started just about every sentence in this post with "I." I need to work on that.
I do that a lot in English. Additionally, I use the words also, kinda and though in about every post I write. >_>
 

Eef

Your Mom
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Personally, I love essays. My classmates; on the other hand, despise essays. Because our English Instructor is a grammar nazi, they're afraid to make mistakes. Ok, I love essays, because this is about expressing your thoughts, opinions, ideas on the matter; though I'm not very good with 'em. However, like some of you, my mind clams up too sometimes. I'm not very good at making essays because sometimes it just goes irrelevant to the topic. This happened to me many times when I'll find the topic really interesting but can't find the right words to say. I know it's there somewhere, but can't seem to let it out. maybe I need more time, I need to brainstorm with no people around, 'cause that way I can think clear. But yeah, I like essays.
 

TeaBeforeWar

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I'm also much more of a perfectionist in writing than in other subjects. I see my what I write down as a reflection of my intelligence. I can't stand to turn something in that I'm not pleased with, but that's what I almost always do. I'd rather not write anything than write something stupid. I suppose I'll just have to get over that.
Haha, I'll agree with that entirely; I've actually been a good writer as long as I can remember, but it comes at the price of extraodinary pickiness. When I sit down to write an essay of x number of words, I know by now that I have to set aside enough time to account for my snail's pace of about 100 words/hour average. And no matter what the actual quality of the final product is, I can't help but see it as a horrible steaming turd, and in utmost shame I hide it in the bowels of my harddrive for all eternity.

Childhood attempts at writing stories did not fare well. :/
 

AnaVanevska

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I had difficulties with my essay too ...
But, a friend of mine did save my day with this really informative website http://www.proessaywriting.com
I was skeptic at first, but I've changed my mind after reviewing it.You can share your opinions and there's a lot of good projects available... you name it, it's there. I hope this information will help someone.
:rolleyes:
 

TBerg

fallen angel who hasn't earned his wings
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The more you read, the more deeply and broadly you absorb your own language. You begin to see all kinds of roots and connections that can be exploited in ever-more-precise ways. After reading the kinds of material you need to address enough to have a basic grasp on the subject, try to just take what you understand, and then look up more details that you need to support your basic understanding. Then you will be able to write in a way that accords with your own thoughts, but also that accords with the text you are supposed to understand. There is no absolute truth. There is only your capacity to have a basic understanding that relates to the material you are studying.
 
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