I have a rule I try to follow every time I write an essay.
After completing the essay I give the essay a complete read through. If I can’t force myself to read through it then I know I need to throw it out. If I read through the first couple paragraphs and hate the essay then I give up on it right there. If I read through (or suffer through ) the full essay and don’t absolutely love at least one chunk of it then I throw the whole thing out.
If I can’t force myself to read through an essay then it’s a safe bet that the essay actually sucks. I had that problem with a number of my college essay first drafts.
I apparently wrote nothing that I’m genuinely curious about rereading. That is a terrible sign for someone that knows how to write. (There should at least be a cheesy joke worth reading.)
If I can’t get through the start of the essay and enjoy it then it’s a safe bet that the rest of it isn’t going to go any better. Most of good essay writing for a skilled writer comes down to a flow and/or rhythm. If the information isn’t flowing right then it rarely comes together near the end. If it does, you’ll generally know it and feel it while you’re writing it.
If I don’t find something I love after completing a read through then I’m forced to accept that if I can’t find anything to love then it’s highly doubtful anyone judging it will either. Sure… you can get a good grade with an essay you don’t love but every time you do it you’re risking your teacher getting bored.
Essays are an amazing opportunity to use your personality to steal a few extra and undeserved points from the teacher. If the teacher really enjoys your work then they’ll reward you for it. Every time you hand in something subpar you’re risking the loss of those bonus points.
More importantly, in my book at least, it’s a bit of a shot to the pride too. I’ve gotten assignments back in english with lower grades than I was hoping for but when I handed in something I was proud of, I really didn’t care all that much. If I enjoyed writing and reading the essay myself then I at least got some pleasure from the process. If I’m going to be stuck writing an essay for an hour or two then I’d prefer to enjoy the process and lose a few points than to hate the process to gain the points.
The funny thing is, after introducing this rule, I’ve barely had to throw any full essays out. Sure… I get the occasional stinker I have to toss but just knowing how critically I plan on judging the essay at the end forces me to start with a really strong concept. Then, even a mediocre showing in the writing process can create a strong finish. 7 Things They Don’t Tell You About Essays can give you some more ideas how to improve your essay writing.
Editing can only do so much. Editing is important but editing is no fun and almost pointless if you’re starting with a mediocre essay.
Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to check out the archives and follow along. Also, be sure to read the books in the sidebar to learn more.
This is an absolutely essential read for anyone on this blog.
I’m about 4 hours away from something big.
The story began a decade ago when I first started to share my study strategies with other students.
I had figured out the Holy Grail of academic optimization strategies – and every intermediate step to get to it. Using this strategy, I pulled a nearly 4.0 GPA while running a double course load in college – and once I started sharing it.
Droves of them.
And then teachers noticed.
Most of the teachers that were looking out for their student’s best interest got what I was saying and supported the cause. Others… well… not everyone has the student’s best interest at heart.
Early on (even before Smart Student Secrets,) I started writing for average students.
I knew… I was NEVER one of the “smart kids”. I was mediocre at best. And I knew, if these strategies worked for me then they could work for just about anybody. And that’s who I wanted to connect with.
But… There was a problem…
I built an audience giving these strategies away. Sure…
And I’d get messages from them. And we’d talk. And I’d hear their stories.
I’d hear from A+ students that cut their study time by 90%.
I’d hear from B students that took their grades up to A’s.
I’d hear from teachers that were sharing my strategies with their students.
I’d hear from older students how these strategies changed their life.
I love it. I love introducing these strategies that changed my life to other people.
But there was always this… but…
What about the C students?
What about the D students?
What about the students that are currently failing?
Sure… Some would reach out.. but…
They never followed through… They’d take a small step. They’d sign up. They’d learn some killer strategies. Seeing right there how powerful they were going to be…
And then… life kicks in. They lose sight of their goals.
And it’s gone.
Student’s came to this site to improve their life. They see the possibilities. But then… they move on.
In about 4 hours, I’m going to be introducing something – an email subscriber exclusive – that can help change that.
It’s going to make more Smart Students than at any other time in this site’s history.
If you’re ready to take your academic game to the next level – if you want to see it for yourself.
Write your email in the box. Check the confirmation you want emails. Confirm your email. And see for yourself.