Every time an essay is due, I plan out which day I will spend writing the draft. And I completely dread it. And then that fateful moment arrives. I am sitting, staring at my computer screen. I take the first step.
Taking this first step is always easier than I think it will be and there are a few strategies that explain this, at least for me.
First of all, I generally write my rough drafts in a coffee shop. I really like coffee and often wonder how I would function without it, and of course the atmosphere of Espresso Royale on State Street is a little cozier and less rigid than that of the Grad.
Now that we’ve established the setting, let’s proceed into the actual strategy. I like to write things by hand, and as I jot down bullet points that come to me, I can go back through my notebook with a fun colored pen and organize my thought points into a coherent progression of ideas, well, coherent enough for a shitty rough draft. I can highlight important ideas I want to use, underline what has potential to be supporting evidence, and comment on anything and everything. I don’t experience this effect while typing out my ideas because I can’t rearrange them in a tangible way. The physical act of writing small phrases, not even sentences, creates a “flow” that allows me to get lost inside of my own ideas. In fact, it almost makes it enjoyable. And I also want to make it clear that these bullet points do not constitute an outline of any sort, they are simply a stream of consciousness.
My next step is to go straight into the body paragraphs, in order to avoid restricting my writing to a thesis I wrote before discovering what direction my paper is going.
So, pick up a pen and notebook (no not a macbook pro) and jot down your ideas. Get lost in them. And listen to some good music while doing that. It’s a must. I prefer Sufjan Stevens (I like sharing music choices, if you couldn’t tell). Good luck!