We all find it challenging to sit down, focus, and start a task. A lot of us even procrastinate. The best advice on how to start would be to simply start! This may not sound very helpful, but the action itself is extremely powerful if you just try it. There is no magical way to help you start writing your college essay, if you just take a minute and stop stressing over how to start you will actually achieve the first step.
Don’t think about it too much, don’t worry on how it should be done. Find out what you need to write about, then just start writing whatever pops into your mind. First drafts are all about getting the ideas down on paper; even bullet points or disjointed sentences are enough at the beginning. That’s the process of brainstorming, and you can start even before you put much effort into deep thinking or researching. Dig out what you already know first – if you’re writing an admission essay, there is little research to be done in most cases. Only you know how to best explain the “who”, “what”, “why” about yourself. Forget about grammar, format or anything else, just let your ideas flow and see what you come up with. Every great writer has understood: the first draft is never perfect, but it’s always necessary!
Focus on the body of the essay, forget about the title or structure until later. The idea is to first brainstorm and start the task, get the juices flowing in your brain. Start this step early, far from your due date, because the next trick is to leave your essay for a day or two and come back to it. This exercise keeps your brain working; as you go about your day, you will keep thinking about what you have written and what you would like to add to the essay. New ideas will surface and provide the drive and new material you need to continue working on your essay. At the same time, when you write something and go back to it later you may notice that some things you have said simply don’t make sense, need more explanation or context, or are out of place. This gives you the opportunity to correct yourself.
During the early writing process, you may engage in general writing steps such as research, additional brainstorming, planning the structure of your essay – but don’t overthink or stress. Let your thoughts flow and reveal your personality in the essay. You may need to write the same essay for different majors, e.g., a personal statement for different fields in different schools. This could confuse you, and it is easy for confusion to creep into content of your essay; writing in multiple drafts allows you to express all your thoughts and extract the parts you need, or separate the stories into individual ideas for separate essays.
Important things to avoid when trying to write any essay:
Do not multitask – it does not make you a superstar! Multitasking simply distracts you and keeps you off focus. Your mind will stop producing information relevant to your writing.
Do not have anything else open on your screen, like a social network site or chat window. Keeping up with your social network while trying to write will trick your brain into thinking you actually accomplished something, pulling you back from your actual task.
Do not sit for hours, trying to start and finish your essay all in one sitting. You only have so much power and energy in your body and mind. Writing a good essay can be a long process. You may read your essay two days later and think “what was I thinking when writing this?” So, don’t rush it.
Do not wait till the last minute to write your essay, it will just end up poorly written
Do not submit your essays until you have given them to someone else for proofreading. You may be surprised how many mistakes you have missed, and getting a second opinion is always safer. A typo or spelling error could negatively impact the overall impression of your essay.