Improving Your Essays

I work hard in school, but I have a lot of trouble getting the kinds of grades that I want to get. A big problem, I think, is my writing. I’m not good at writing. However, I must write a lot of essays in school, so I get bad grades on those. When the professors read my work, I think they think I’m dumb, but I’m not! I am just bad at writing. How can I make my writing better so that I do better in school?

Essay writing is a skill that we’re forced to practice in classrooms from grade school to graduate school. Yet it’s also something that many of us feel uncomfortable with. Writing an elegant essay isn’t something that comes easy to everyone, and students tend to tell pollsters that they hate writing them. However, they’re not going anywhere, so what can you do?

The good news is that teachers and professors drill essays for a reason. Experts agree that students can improve their writing. Sure, some of us are naturals and others are not, but each of us can become better at writing over time, as long as we’re willing to put in the hard work and use the resources available to us.

What sort of resources? The classic Strunk and White book The Elements of Style is a superb starting point for grammar and structure. Without basic grammar in our toolbox, it becomes hard for you to form larger structures and present ideas in an elegant fashion, so study up. Then, move on to reading tutorials online and in books on essay styles. Look for smart and practical guides that cover things such as structure (introduction, body, and conclusion) as well as common citation systems (such as MLA and Chicago style) and other essentials.

If working on your own isn’t your thing, consider working with a writing coach or taking a course. You may have more resources available to you than you think. Check to see whether you can visit writing coaches or a writing center on your campus, and take full advantage of those sorts of resources. You can also find a reliable essay help service online, if you know where to look.

Of course, all of the instruction and advice in the world isn’t going to help you if you don’t put in the work. Unfortunately, acquiring learned skills such as essay writing have no real shortcuts. You must practice, practice, practice. If you think your essay is lousy, write it again. Then write it another time, improving and editing it as much as you can in the time allowed. If you want to catch up to the students who you consider better essay-writers than you, then you must put in the time. Just because it might take someone else two drafts to finish an essay doesn’t mean that you should stop at two drafts, too. Keep grinding away and practicing to set your sights on improvement.

Since you’re concerned about what your professors think, and because you’ll work so hard to improve, don’t be afraid to loop in your instructors and let them know what you’re trying to do. You’ll send the right message about your dedication, work ethic, and priorities, and your professors might even want to help you out with private tutoring, extended deadlines, or extra credit. Keep them informed.

Writing essays isn’t always fun, but if you commit to this self-improvement project of yours and focus hard on getting better, you’re going to acquire a valuable skill that will help you in your academic career and for years to come afterwards. Best of luck!

“Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” – Bill Wheeler