Essays don’t have to be miserable

Anna Malesis, Editor-in-chief

You stare down at the prompt. Your teacher has assigned yet another essay—another three plus hours of grueling confusion, worry, and boredom; another painful all-nighter of fingers cramping at the keyboard; another rush of anxiety at the idea of your grade plummeting, just after enough time had passed for you to forget the whole miserable experience.

But is it really all necessary?

No, I don’t mean the essay itself. I mean the terrible experience that most students associate with it.

Even if English isn’t your thing, writing an essay doesn’t have to be so terrible; you just have to find a way to engage yourself. When you are reading, it could be finding hidden bits of irony, taking interest in a random minor character, or even criticizing the author, the plot, or  a character: anything to give you an opinion about the story.

That way, when you go to start writing, you’ll have something that you actually care about to incorporate into your essay. Chances are that, no matter the prompt, you can include either details you noticed or the perspective you gained, and it will make your essay that much more interesting to write. If, instead of just answering the prompt in a generic way, you make it your own, a defense of your actual position on the work, it will be that much more satisfying to perfect it.

Not only that, but your essay will be more interesting to read. No teacher wants to grade a stack of cookie-cutter essays, so it can pay to include your unique perspective in your writing. As long as your ideas fit the prompt and are adequately supported and explained, don’t be afraid to include them. Your own voice and opinions, if executed properly, can make your essay stand out in the best possible way.

When it comes down to it, making your essay your own can be the key to success—and sanity—but the only reason that it works is because it forces you to change to outlook. As long as you see an essay as a death sentence, it will be. It’s your choice: you have to write the essay, but you don’t have to make miserable.