Management of the creative process
One of the hardest parts of writing is getting started. Here are some strategies to consider when managing the creative (and analytical) process of writing a high-quality essay.
Keep the reader engaged
No one wants to read a boring essay. Grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph of your essay. This is where you will set the stage and theme for the rest of what you write. It doesn’t have to be the first sentence or some crazy story. In your writing, consider a “hook” or opening that will interest the reader in your writing.
Use your own voice
Have you ever read something that sounded like the person who wrote it? It’s a wonderful example of someone speaking with their own voice. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is to overlook their own personality in their writing. In your essay, you don’t need to impress the reader with lots of facts or quotes from other people – this is your chance to show who you are. Being authentic, honest, and humorous will help your writing express your unique experiences and personality.
You can ask for feedback at any stage of your writing. In the beginning, you might brainstorm topics with others and brainstorm different ideas. Once you’ve written a draft, share it with your family, friends, or even your teachers. Getting feedback will give you an outside perspective on your draft and clarify points raised by readers. Plus, they might find typos or other grammar issues that you missed. Comments can help you refine your points and take your writing to the next level.
Note: too many comments are a real problem — from experience I would suggest 2-3 people. Remember to keep your writing style and your voice.
The 80/20 rule
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? Also known as Pareto Principalthe idea is that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your actions.
This rule can be applied to your scholarship writing and application process. Your other activities such as research, ideation, and feedback will help bring value to your overall goal: solid written work.
The spotlight effect
Some writers suffer from spotlight effect. In other words, they tend to downplay their victories, successes, and sometimes even their prospects. This may be partly due to societal norms and the guilt some may feel for “bragging” about their accomplishments. It is important to overcome the spotlight effect, especially when writing your college essays. This is your chance to take the stage and tell your story without fear or worry.
Analysis paralysis and pauses
Sometimes as writers we don’t know where to start. This is also known as analysis paralysis, or “writer’s block.” It’s important to understand that most people don’t just write an amazing essay in one sitting. Maybe some people can, but I guess most take breaks between writing. Perfection can be the enemy of success. In other words, just getting started may be the best way to overcome a mental hurdle.
Also, if you manage your time well, write when you have the most energy and take breaks when needed. Writers often bring back new ideas when they take time off from their work to rest, eat food, or exercise.
In summary, these tips for college essays are a starting point for writers. If you feel stuck, remember that writing is a process. Consider searching online for examples of other essays for inspiration. Don’t copy or plagiarize the work, but reading other essays can help you get a feel for your structure.
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time before writing the essay to prepare for your writing process. And remember, colleges want to hear from you, not someone else.