Writing essays is an essential part of school and college life, but most people dread writing them.
Especially if you’re not a prolific writer, it can be hard to structure them, to put pen to paper, and to get them done efficiently.
Staying focused on homework can be hard enough!
In this guide, I’m giving you my best tips for how to get motivated to write an essay, which assumes that you currently don’t have the motivation now.
Follow these steps to set up each of your essays, and then conquer them one by one.
You’ll find that once you do, you feel more accomplished, more able to stick to a plan, and much more able to stay focused on homework!
Study Tools You Need RIght Now
1. Choose an Enjoyable Topic, if Possible
If you’re going to be motivated to write an essay, the easiest way to do so is by choosing a topic that means something to you.
Sure, some essays already have the topic handed out and in that case, you don’t have much of a choice, but many times you do.
You’ll be confined to a specific area, probably – whether it’s choosing an influential person in history, a book written by a woman, etc.
But within the bounds of what you can choose, make sure to choose something that is meaningful to you and gets you at least somewhat excited to research and explore the topic.
This helps you to feel like you’re motivated to write an essay because you genuinely want to learn more rather than being forced to.
2. Outline the Essay including the Introduction and Conclusion
In this step, you’re going to set up the essay to make it as easy as possible to think about.
This is one of my biggest tips when it comes to sticking to a plan.
This helps get you motivated to write the essay because it makes it seem less daunting.
Most essays have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
You need to work out how many body paragraphs you will need based on the points you are going to make in the essay.
Write this outline down to help you with the next step and to see that you can approach the essay by these individual sections rather than feeling like you need to sit down and just write an essay all at once.
3. Chunk the Word Count Down
Once you have your outline down, it’s time to figure out how many words should go in each section.
For instance, if I were doing a 1000 word essay, I would probably do 100 for an introduction, 200 for 4 body paragraphs each and 100 for a conclusion.
However you break it down is up to you and how many words you want the final essay to be.
This seems like extra work up front, but writing an essay that is properly outlined and has word counts attached to it can give you motivation because you see that it is already starting to come together before you even start writing. Suddenly, it seems a lot easier and that’s what encourages us to forge ahead.
4. Break Down the Work Over Multiple Days
As long as you’re not someone who has waited until the last day to write your essay (and if you have then this is not for you), break down the work over multiple days and plan it out so it’s not all on one day.
For instance, if you had 5 days and 5 sections, you could do a section a day, or if you only have 2 days, you could split it up in half.
This means you don’t have to work up the motivation to write your essay all at once, but only have to work up the motivation to write a certain number of words, which some people find easier.
5. Organize Your Research and Notes
Figure out where your lack of motivation to write your essay is coming from.
Chances are, the whole thing seems overwhelming and that’s one of the reasons you don’t start.
I always like to organize my research into easy-to-read notes, and many times I’ve used index cards to write down each fact and then you can arrange the index cards into the structure you want your essay to take later on.
You have to first digest the material you have researched in order to put it into an essay, so make sure to do this crucial step in between researching and writing, otherwise you’ll be left with a pile of books with no notes and trying to write the essay from memory of exactly what the quote was about photosynthesis on page 66 on the book with the blue cover.
I know that these steps feel like they’re adding more stress to your essay writing experience, I promise that once you do them you will feel so much more motivated to get it done.
6. Look Up Quotes
Especially if you’re writing for a high school paper, a lot of times it can be a good idea to start with a quote in your introduction.
Regardless, looking for quotes surrounding your topic is a great idea to give yourself some inspiration to write an essay and give you the motivation to start.
Remember that the quote doesn’t always have to exactly be about your topic or have the exact wording of your topic, but maybe it’s from an important person that you’re writing about in your essay or they’re talking about a general concept that you’re including in your essay.
7. Read Related Essays or Past Essays
It’s unlikely this is your first essay, in which case you should read over your past essays to remind yourself how you structured them and look at examples of when you finished essays, including any feedback that teachers gave you.
You can also read related essays on the subject that you look up online or the teacher hands out from past students, but you need to be very careful to only read this and not make any notes that could lead to you plagiarizing, even on accident.
It may be an idea to read essays in an unrelated topic, just so you can get more ideas for structuring an essay but won’t be in danger of stealing someone else’s words or ideas.
8. Plan Writing Sessions with a Friend
If it’s truly the motivation to write the essay that you struggle with and not the difficulty, team up with a friend and plan writing sessions where you set goals for how far along in your essays you want to be by the end of it.
You shouldn’t share notes to the point that you end up with the same essay, but working across from someone who is also working on the essay can be a huge motivator so you don’t feel left behind.
This also works more broadly if you decide to work in the library where other people are also working on various assignments, as the atmosphere of productivity can be one of the things that encourages you to improve your own productivity even further.
9. Choose a Reward for When You Finish
If getting a good grade on the essay isn’t a good enough motivator, choose a reward for yourself for when you finish the essay to help keep you motivated to study.
It could be a cake that you bake yourself, it could be a friend that you hang out with, it could be a weekend trip you plan.
It could be something small like a television show you watch or, if the essay is part of a longer string of assignments, taking an hour break afterwards.
Whatever it is, push yourself through writing the essay in order to get to the reward at the end.