Instead of thinking you need to immediately start writing a top class essay, let’s take a step back to the outlining stage. The outlining stage is where you will set out a plan for your essay.
In timed tests, teachers often advise to take time to plan essay based questions. Some students can feel like this is a waste of valuable minutes, but pre-planning your essay can give you a clear direction of where you’re heading, improving your writing and saving time in the long run.
This is much the case when writing an essay for homework or coursework, as well. Completing an outline before jumping into your final essay will set you on the right path to showing your full potential in the essay.
How an outline will improve your essay
Creating an outline is often an accessible way to start writing an essay, so how else can it improve your essay writing:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Allow for more natural trains of thought, so you don’t feel tied down to your first idea, but can edit and reorganise ideas as you go
Think through your ideas, make connections and ensure you understand the overall essay aim
Prioritise topics and allocate word count to create a well-structured essay
Remember things you may have forgotten if you had jumped straight into writing - and ditch the ideas that just aren’t working
Get started with referencing resource materials
And no dreaded blank page syndrome!
How to create an outline
No outline is the same. This is a personalised document with the sole purpose of helping you write your essay, so make it your own. There are a few common steps that you can use, from setting out a basic plan, to creating a near-complete essay draft.
Your outline could include one or all these stages, whatever is useful in getting you started with your essay.
1) Type the essay title and get all of your ideas down
Brainstorm everything you can immediately think of that you want to include or that you think might be useful to remember. By having your essay title at the top or summarising your objectives for this particular essay, you can focus on what you’re trying to achieve. You can even jot down a potential conclusion that you have in mind to make your trajectory and goals clear.
2) Start structuring the essay
Now you can look at your brainstormed ideas and start to move things into a structured, hierarchical format. Here is where your outline will start to take shape and you can identify clear aims for your overall essay. Remember, nothing is set in stone, you can continue to review and reorder topics as many times as you need.
3) Expand on your writing
Next, go into some detail, expand on the quick key words or phrases you have entered, note the relationships between different ideas and how the topics fit together, and start to finesse sentences that you want to take forward into your essay. You can even start to add references to resource material.
4) Review your writing and continue with the essay
Now you have a well-developed and organised outline, you can review what you have written to ensure you are happy with your proposed essay structure and then continue writing. At this point, you are sure to have a good number of words written that will kickstart your essay. Simply continue adding to your current outline or transfer your essay to a word processor.
I even used this method to create this blog post.
From step 1...
to step 4!
Inspiration's Outline View
Open Inspiration 10 and select ‘Outline’ to quickly get started with creating your essay plan. You can continue to expand on your outline up to the point of completing your essay all within Inspiration 10.
If you’re really struggling with getting started, open up Inspiration 10’s Outline template to help with setting a structure, or use one of the more specific essay templates, such as, the Comparison Essay, Descriptive Essay, Persuasive Essay or Research Essay.