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Top 5 Tips on How to Deal With Soul-Sucking Essays

Whether it's for class, admission, or a scholarship, you'll have to write essays you just don't want to. Here are five tips to deal with tough essays.

Sometimes finding an essay idea is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Writing it feels like pulling your teeth with nothing but a set of rusty pliers. Editing? Like sawing your leg off with dental floss. You don’t even want to read what you’ve written. It’s a soul-sucking, caffeine-infused, oh-god-why essay. Whether it’s for class, college admission, or a scholarship, you deal with one of these essays at least once a semester, or at most, all the time. However, all is not as hopeless as it seems. Here are five tips to deal with an essay monstrosity.

1. Find a new angle

Your teacher reads the prompt and right then and there, you know this is the end. You literally couldn't care less about the subject—you may even hate it. It glares at you at the top of your computer screen like a piece of dust that just won’t come off no matter how hard you scrub. Instead of texting your friend to complain about this latest offense, open up a new tab and just type in some key words from your essay. Say it’s about Shakespeare and whether he's still relevant to our day and age. Of course, there are probably a million and three articles out there about that, but one may genuinely interest you. Maybe it’s the fact that Shakespeare actually created a lot of words or how some movies made today are clearly based on Shakespeare plays (so many versions of Romeo and Juliet…so many). If articles aren’t your style, try finding a video. Crash Course is a great way to get interested in things you literally never knew about. Overly Sarcastic Productions just so happens to provide hilarious summaries of Shakespearean plays. There is an abundant amount of material out there that only takes a little bit of searching to find. It may make you actually want to write the essay.

Side note: If you do find a source you like, credit the source. Do not plagiarize. Plus, your teacher may be interested in knowing what made this topic fun or at least intriguing to you.

Related: 5 Fun and Unique Ways to Brainstorm Your College Essays

2. Work with somebody

Research may be equally painful for you, or perhaps you are now so swamped with information, you don’t know what to do next. Now may be the time to text that friend—not to complain, but to ask for some help. I find it helpful to nab a friend who is also trying to write a soul-sucking essay. You can bounce ideas off each other, motivate each other, and gripe together. After all, misery loves company. If a friend would be too distracting, there’s always the writing center or a teacher. They’ll help you with thesis-writing, outlining, editing, and just about anything. See if there’s another student in your class who is also struggling, or find one who actually knows what they’re doing. Writing a soul-sucking essay doesn’t have to be done alone.

3. Take breaks

You don’t have to continually sit at your desk and bang your head against the keyboard. Chances are you have other homework that needs to be completed. You also have a life outside of school that needs to be lived. Hermitting works for some people, but I know I can’t just hole up in my room until I come out with an essay, so taking breaks is an option. That’s not an open invitation to take a permanent break from your essay; it still needs to get completed in a timely manner. Just don’t forget to sleep and take care of yourself. A good night’s rest may provide the clear head you need to write a decent essay.

Related: 4 Interesting Podcasts to Listen to on Your Study Breaks

4. Reward yourself

I have a little tin of chocolate espresso beans on my bookshelf next to me. Whenever a particularly stressful essay crosses my desk, I help myself to a few and get going. Got a paragraph done? That warrants an espresso bean! Did some research and got a solid idea of where I’m going with this essay? Another espresso bean! Finished my rough draft? Not only will I eat an espresso bean, I may even take a break to watch an episode of a show. Feel free to reward yourself for working on the essay! You deserve it if you’re plodding through word after word of an essay that feels like a splitting headache. Just make sure you’re rewarding yourself for actual work: writing the date doesn’t equal a movie break.

5. Know you’ll eventually finish

This is the tip I find the most helpful. No matter how tedious, grueling, or all around exhausting the essay is, it will eventually be over. Sometimes you just have to power through an essay and hope. It will be excruciating. It will be draining. It will be a soul-sucking essay. But soon it will be your soul-sucking, caffeine-infused, oh-god-why essay. You may never want to see it again—I have some essays that I’d just rather forget about. But you did it! You made it through. You dealt with the monstrosity that is the soul-sucking essay.

Related: 7 Tips to Boost Your Writing for Homework and Essays

Essays can be tough, especially when it's for a subject you're not invested in or you're feeling the pressure of college admission—but that doesn't mean they have to be impossible. There are plenty of ways to make the process easier, approach it from a different angle, and reward yourself for your hard work. The ideas and your good writing will come with time; that’s why you should always give yourself ample time to get your essays done.

If you're really trying to up your writing game for college admission, check out Our Best Advice for Writing Your College Application Essays.

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About Karen G.

Karen G. is a quirky gal who loves to curl up with a good book and probably drinks way too much coffee. As a dual credit student, she took college courses during high school. With amazing advisors and helpful friends, moving from high school to college was a lot smoother than she thought it would be, and she headed to university to pursue a degree in Math. Karen has a passion for writing short stories, poetry, and articles for CollegeXpress.  


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