1.23.2017

5 Things I Learned from Writing Essays

I took a college writing class last semester.  Its torturous lack of spaceships and fantastical beings taught me a lot about writing.  (Note to colleges: you should allow speculative fiction into your curriculum.  It's rather fun.)

1. Essay writing taught me better grammar.


Formal writing requires no broken grammar rules.  Learning these rules helped me improve my writing and know when it is okay to break the rules.  Hey, sometimes ya gotta break the rules for effect.


2. Essay writing taught me how to macro-edit.


My first drafts were scatter-brained messes.  (Well, apparently not when I'm feeling creative or under a strict time restraint.)  Editing short non-fiction is great practice for editing long fiction.  Trust me.

3. Essay writing taught me how to show, not tell.


If any of you know me, you probably know that I tend to write short.  Super short.  My longest WIP is currently 41k words.  Having a 700-word minimum when I can say the same amount in 500 words is difficult.  My problem?  I told rather than described.  Quickly, I learned to either add more description and examples or add another paragraph (though I got in trouble for doing this instead of sticking to a 3-part thesis).

4. Essay writing showed me to line edit by hand.


There's something therapeutic about writing all over a paper with a blood-red pen.  (Until you've edited your entire 41k book with it over a period of 24 hours.  True story.)

5. Essay writing showed me I write better under pressure.*


We had to do a few timed essays in this class.  This is like NaNoWriMo in an hour and a half with no planning and perfect writing.  Somehow, I always got better grades on these essays.

*If I planned before writing.

Have you ever written an essay?  Did it teach you anything about writing?  I would love to hear your thoughts!


15 comments:

  1. Glad you could learn all that from essay writing :) I've learned quite a few things myself from essay writing that I've taken over to fictional writing. I think what I've most learned from Essay writing is plotting out the outline. A good outline is the backbone of any essay and I've taken that over to writing. Cool post thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes, outlining is super helpful, though I was already getting into that before I took this class.

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  2. Ha ha, I love your note to colleges at the beginning of this! I thoroughly agree! ;)

    Essay-writing has taught me a lot, too. Writing them is one of my least favourite things in the world, but the editing part always helps me learn where I need to work, more. :)

    Great post, Alea!

    ~Liv
    oliviakfisher.blogspot.com

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    1. Let's spread the word. ;) Maybe a college will notice.

      *sigh* I guess those dreaded things are important.

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  3. YES THIS IS ALL TRUE
    My first legit English class was where I really started writing when I got to do a fictional story

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    1. That's awesome! *applause to that English class* Without that class I probably wouldn't know you. Scary thought.

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    2. YES haha. *thanks the blogger (who i can't remember) who commented on my blog and introduced me to all other writers and the english teacher and my brain for having words*
      THIS IS SCARY.

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  4. Oh my, this IS all true. And even though long messes of essays on a close time crunch can kick my sanity every now and then, they are really valuable learning experiences!

    (although, I have a problem with not having brevity. My teachers always read my essays and say, "you're a poet/novelist at heart; I can tell." xD)

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    1. That's so true! They have taught me so much about writing. I watched my fiction writing grow as I perfected my nonfiction writing.

      What an awesome compliment from your teachers!

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    1. I'm so happy I could help, Evangeline!

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  6. Definitely, I think writing essays and other nonfiction has helped me a lot! It's funny how the things you learn from writing school papers can help with the Creative Writing side too. :D

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    1. I watched my writing grow as I crawled through the class. It helped that my teacher was amazing. I guess school is good for something, right? ;)

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  7. Oooh these are such good things to learn!! Especially the editing points *nods* Learning how to do line edits is really hard but sooo worth it. And learning the rules before you break them is actually SUPER IMPORTANT. And somehow you can break rules better if you know what you're doing?!? hehe.

    I'm glad you learned so much from essay writing, Alea! GOOD STUFF.

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    1. I think when you know the rules, you don't just break them. You slay them like you're slaying a dragon.

      Thank you, Cait!

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