Essay planning for those times when you just don’t have a clue

By Jenna Houston

Image provided by the author.

In these strange times, it is so hard to keep in a routine with uni work, and many of us have external factors that affect our ability to stay focused on essays and essay planning (especially when the world seems like it's imploding). So, as a means to keep up some normality, I've written a how-to of essay planning for those struggling to get started.

1. Read over class notes. Seems like a simple task, but when you’re not sure where to begin or what you want to start writing your essay on, oftentimes I find that reading over notes inspires some productivity. It also allows you to filter out what you find interesting enough to write an essay on (and what you do not!)

2. Research. Once you've figured out a few things that you don't actively hate, research around them. Look at journal articles, theoretical approaches, collections of essays, and think about what you agree with and what you disagree with. This helps start to establish some kind of argument in your head which will later become the foundations of your essay.

3. Plan. Easier said than done huh? Start by outlining the topic and a key theme you want to consider. If you're lucky enough to have a list of essay questions provided by your department, this is where you should choose a question. In terms of actually planning I usually break it down into key sections and write bullet points of thing I want to address.

Top tip: if you're a literature student like me, include quotes from the book in your planning if you can. It tends to direct your plan and writing once you get started. Plus, it saves you time trying to find quotes in the novel to support your argument. This way you've done the hard work and just need to copy, paste and cite them in your essay.

Instagram: @jenna.houston