Not good at essays!

I have to do 10 BIG redrafts of coursework essays for next Friday.

And I’m completely stuck.

I hate the way at school (or college) you’re just expected to magically not be dyslexic!

makes annoyed animal noises

If you are of age beer can lead to enlightenment or indifference.

I am of age but t-total.

This also counts for 40% of the mark for the subject that I’m relying on to get into Uni, so being indifferent probably won’t be a good thing.

I’ll bare the alchohol solution in mind anyway!

Rent a really bad “B” movie.

Suffer through it and through the credits.

THen reflect on the fact that if someone were able to not only write something this horrid, act this horrid, and actually sell something this horrid, then you can take confidence in knowing that if you set your mind to it you could easily write an “A” paper and not some “B” anthology.


t-total… My sympathies. Even Paul told Timothy to take a glass now and then, so I have moderated my personal position to allow a bit. The wife and kids had a lot to do with that though. I respect your resolve.

I prefer the food solution anyway. Large curry anything at 11:30 PM. Attempt to sleep. Nature will supply material. Quality of material is subject to quality of curry.

  • munchies (A psychiatrist said in a class I took once that we can’t feel fear and eat at the same time. Don’t know if it’s true, but there you go.)

  • freewriting

  • munchies (something really LOUD that drowns out all the negative voices you’re hearing)

  • get comfy and ‘dream write’ … I wish I could remember the fantasy writer whose book has this in it. There’s also From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler. It’s for writing fiction, but I would imagine writing non-fiction has much the same needs.

  • try a draft using something that lessens its importance - a crayon or marker (the scented ones are particularly nice :laughing: ) on a huge piece of paper.

  • pretend you’re writing a blog entry instead of an essay (many blog entries are essays).

  • try doodling while you think. Occupying your hands with something mindless can often free up your thought processes. I like to use colored pencils myself (Prismacolor brand).

  • can you write to music? Either something that gets you energized or something appropriate to what you’re writing.

I personally can get my brain going by reading craft books. Perhaps a quick Google search of “writing essays” would help. A lot of different universities have student help sites that anyone can access.

Hope these help you find something that works for you.


Studio 717 - thank you very much.

It seems strange to think of academic writing as if it’s creative writing. The techniques you described are stuff that (some of them) I do a lot anyway when approaching my poetry and songwriting; or at least, I feel comfortable with the idea of doing them.

And guess what - I write a lot more comfortably when doing poetry as when I write essays.

I discovered Scriv’s outliner and I think Keith may end up joining the iGTD developer in saving my A-levels.

Or you could just google the essays themselves: change the fonts and no one will know the difference :smiley:

Monsieur Sebastian!!

Cease forum whoring and fannying about!! Get off line now and get done what has to be done! These are your A Levels Monsieur. Votre futur…oui?

LeD :smiling_imp:

That’s quite difficult when you have essay questions like:

“How used Acting Techniques, Design Elements and Dramatic Form were consciously employed to achieve the intended effect”

“How the student’s role emerged and was communicated”

and they all relate to a piece we made ourselves.

My R.S. essays are another matter.

Anti-plagiarism techniques have obviously stepped up since I did uni then!

We had one course where the lecturer used the same assignments year after year. And as it was a maths course (well, computer systems) and had precise answers to questions, there was absolutely no way to tell if anyone was plagiarising as everyone’s answers should look the same.


I don’t know if that’s true.

It’s just that there’s no way you could physically plagarise these essays. We basically had to make a piece of theatre ourselves and then write about it, the person marking it being our tutor/assistant director who saw us through the devising process.

Oh! Sebbi! This is so easy! You did the theatre! All you have to do is write down what you did, simply—no fancy stuff. If you sit down and just start going through what you did in rehearsal, remembering this choice there and that choice here and why something changed because somebody ate curry that day. . . . you’re half-way there!

Have fun!


Yes, but that in itself is a step up in anti-plagiarism measures!

I’ve done some lecturing/tutoring at Uni, and we devised a lot of ways to ask questions that couldn’t be easily plagiarised just to get around the problem.

Often it is easier to prevent it than to catch it!

Oh, and good luck with the essays :slight_smile:

Well here in the deep south this is easy.The answer lies in the question of

"How the hell did that ugly dude get that hot chick to marry him?

This is a sequel to the first question.

This is what the guy that landed the hot chick feels after the “Newly Wed SYndrome” wears off and the realization of marrige comes to full fruitation.

This is when we are sitting at the bar talking about some fools misfortune and realize we ourselves could be viewed in the same foolish light.

Whoo doggy simple enough if in ya just get to peckin on dat keyboard.

Think of the solution, not the problem and everything will come together like good shine enjoyed on a good rockin chair.


Hi, Sebbi,

I don’t know if you like ‘lifehacker’ style help, but here’s a recent post on that might help:

Beat Blank Page Syndrome

HTH :slight_smile:

Edited to add: Ack! I just realized you don’t have much time left! Hope you were able to get your essays done.

I’m 3 down and 7 to go.

I made, what was meant to be a “realistic” plan with the learning support guy at college which involved finding time in the week when I can just sit down and get on with it.

What we didn’t factor in for was that I’d sit down at the computer and suddenly it would all go Greek.

I’m normally an A student, but I’m getting to the point, slowly but surely, where I feel like it would be a huge achievement to get a C in this part of the course.

It’s quite disheartening, especially seeing as I was considering my A to be something quite safe when it comes to getting into Uni. I should probably make sure my dyslexia is nice and flagged up when it comes to my audition next week so that they know that, if my grades let me down it won’t mean I’m stupid.

They’re probably very used to that, so I’ll probably be preaching to the converted (where I’m applying was founded, partly, on Steiner princibles), but it’s good to cover the bases anyway.

I’ve got until next Friday - I was meant to do one over last Thursday into Friday and one Saturday into today (Sunday), but to be honest. I’m feeling too shattered to think about it.

The phrase “blood from a stone” springs to mind.

What is really upsetting is the fact that every time I do an essay, I feel like my confidence as a writer plummets. There are some amazing artists who have said that they only started their journeys after they’d left school and realised there is no such thing as “getting it wrong” in real life. In “The Gift of Dyslexia” Davis says “The [postive aspect of dyslex] often doesn’t develop until the dyslexic has been out of school for a number of years. Perhaps the intervening years are a sort of recovery period.”

If I would feel half as comfortable actually writing these essays rather than ranting about them, I’d be a fair bit of the way there (this post is about 371 words; each essay should be between 900 and 1200; roughly).


Nothing will be done unless I sleep.

Well, Sebbi, 3 down is 3 down. Well done!

I’d suggest you need to take the curse off this project. These aren’t essays and they don’t expect them to be written by great artists.

Throughout high school and then university I simply had an awful time with writing. When I’d finally get one finished it turned out OK but the process was Sisyphean and the stone was very heavy and crushing–particularly at 3 in the morning the day it was due.

In my last year at university, I directed Molière’s Scapin (I was a theatre major). Part of my degree requirement was to write a journal about the process of developing the show. I looked at that and felt my knees starting to knock but then dismissed it because there was just too much bloody else to do. Every day I wrote a bit, though. Why this costume wasn’t right; how to get Sylvestre to act like a French/Commedia dell’Arte 30-year-old instead of an American undergraduate; how could I pull back Scapin from chewing the scenery to bits yet not block his natural insouciance? After the show was over I had to collect everything together and turn it into a thesis (regiebuch actually). Whoa! . . . Wait! How many pages do I have? Well, I’ll be derned. And, this turned out to be some of the best writing I’ve ever done and that was a looonnnng time ago, now.

So, you don’t have the luxury of adding little day-to-day snippets that add up over months but I think you’ll find that if you write about what you did with a vague nod to the questions they’re asking you’ll find it much easier than attempting “The Essay.”

Keep at it!



Just another hint – I haven’t gone through the thread so I don’t know if this has come up before – don’t start with the first paragraph. Start writing with the second or third, whichever you find easiest 'cos you know what it is you want to say in that … the meat of what you have to write. Build from there and then when you’ve got the rest done including the concluding paragraph, then and only then go back and write the introductory one. You don’t know what that first paragraph’s really introducing till you have written the rest of it.

I have an MA student here – I’m not supervising her – and although she’s very bright indeed she was totally stuck on starting her MA Thesis. I arranged to meet her for a coffee to see what could be done. She was trying to start at the beginning and didn’t know how to. We quickly compiled an outline, which included a second section which was to be a resumé of the story at the core of the thesis. I told her to start with that, so she started typing and I got on with some of my work … after a while we broke for lunch and I asked her how much she’d done. I got a wide-eyed answer … over 1000 words in about an hour.

She’s on a PC and is using Word; she can’t use Scrivener. You are … use Scrivener’s ability to split it up and pull it together. Start writing the bits that you can write because they are meaningful to you and then go to the other bits when you’re no longer looking at a blank screen. Like a painter daubing blue paint over a canvas before starting work, so it’s no longer a blank canvas. You can always go back and change them later, if you have to.


I give my journalism students the same advice for magazine features. Write the lede last. Just start writing the little bits that you KNOW you want to say – even if it’s just a sentence. Make each one a separate Scrivener file. Pretty soon, your mind will start making the connections and interpretations etc. Then you can go back (sometimes after a good night’s sleep, rendered guilt free because you’ve actually worked on your essay) and fill in the blanks and transitions and write the opener and closer. You might wind up rewriting lots of those original bits but this is more about getting started than finishing. I still write stories like this sometimes if I don’t have anywhere else to start.

I suspect that that organizing impulse comes from a different part of the brain than does the “write it down” imperative, so you do yourself no favors getting carts and horses out of order. I used to do this on paper or word processor notes and would have to paste or even re-type; OmniOutliner and now Scrivener vastly increases the efficiency of this process.
Most of us have faced this problem, so don’t fret too much. Just get started writing what you know. Good luck!