How Do You Build the Skills for Writing Successful Essays?

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Answered by: Kelly, An Expert in the Writing Quality Essays Category
Like any creative project, writing successful essays requires not only ingenuity but also a mastery of certain technical skills. Many people struggle in their academic and professional lives not because they lack strong ideas, but because they fail to communicate them in an appropriate format. Because every essay presents unique challenges and imposes unique constraints, there are few “hard and fast” requirements for a successful essay. However, there are techniques that can help writers become more comfortable with the composition process and more confident in their own communicative skills.

Perhaps the most important skill a student can develop for effective written communication is the ability to express ideas in their own words. Most essay assignments require some research into the work of colleagues and experts. These resources in themselves are no asset to a student who cannot translate them into original thoughts. Exercises as simple as listing potential synonyms, reversing the structure of a sentence, or giving the main idea of a text can hone these crucial skills so that more energy can be devoted to the creative aspect of essay writing.

Organization is another stumbling block that can be overcome with practice. Tests like the SAT, whose writing component demands a brief and precisely structured response to a question of personal opinion, give writers a misleading impression about organizing an essay. The truth is that while rigid structure can help a writer get a handle on the scope and flow of an essay, it can also constrict the thought process and stifle creativity. One technique for building organizational skills without agonizing over the structural role of every sentence is to brainstorm and then reorganize.

In the initial brainstorming process, list every idea that seems relevant, without regard for its place in the overall essay. Then give each of these ideas its own piece of paper or notecard. By spreading out the cards and manipulating them, a writer can recognize connections between ideas, group concepts that belong in the same paragraph and decide on a logical order. This technique of launching the creative process before imposing structure can help a writer develop the organizational skills that will make their essays more successful.

A finished essay must also appear complete and polished – a requirement that overwhelms many writers. The impulsive desire to get through the writing process can sometimes lead to sloppy grammar and awkward phrasing. Rather than leaving the entire proofing process for the end, a practice that can be especially dangerous for students working close to their deadline, implement a proof-as-you-go strategy. Every paragraph deserves at least a rough read-through right after it is completed. Read the paragraph aloud, being careful not to rush through it or gloss over mistakes. Any grammatical uncertainties can be addressed right away, or at least highlighted for further attention. This gradual polishing process builds editorial skills and makes for a cleaner, more professional essay.

Like building muscles at the gym, writing successful essays requires diligent practice and consistent form. These skill-building techniques will help writers hone in on what makes an essay compelling, clear and ultimately successful.

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