Atmosphere: Setting the Scene

It is important for you to find a place to write where you feel physically and emotionally comfortable. Where this place is really depends on your personality. Some students can work only in libraries, free from the distractions at home, while others find public places too distracting and prefer the solitude of home. When you find such a place, try always to do your writing there since your mind will associate that place with writing and concentration.

The best atmosphere is one that’s free of distractions. This means making sure that you have all the necessary equipment—pens, paper, notes and books—in the one place. By all means have food and drink handy. Some people find music a good way to block out other distractions; others just find it a distraction. The key to getting the atmosphere right is to ensure that interruptions from friends, partners and family are kept to a minimum. Schedule some time for reading, note taking, writing and general studying, and let people know that you will be incommunicado during that time.

The first draft

The first draft of the essay is your attempt to put your organised notes into an essay format. By this stage you should have sorted, selected, rejected and ordered the various parts of your notes. In the first draft, don’t concern yourself with spelling, punctuation, expression or topic sentences; leave them for the following drafts. For now, your objective is to get something down on paper. It is time for the creative process in which you translate your notes, ideas and essay plan into sentences and paragraphs.

Pause and reflect

Try not to write the whole essay, from first to final draft, in one sitting. When the first draft is complete, take a break. It often helps to distance yourself from your essay drafts for a few days if you can spare the time. By distancing yourself from your essay, you are likely to be more objective about what you have written and better able to determine whether you are on track. Go back to your essay plan and compare it with your first draft. Check whether you have covered the areas that you intended to cover in the plan.