I like to write before I research. At the minimum, I brainstorm ideas I have first and look for sources later. This is how I’ve written most of my essays in university.
Even though finding research that supports my argument takes time, knowing my stance in advance stops me from researching for too long.
I’m someone who doesn’t know what I think until I write my thoughts down on paper. Only after do I have more clarity.
I’ve found the better I know what I want to say, the less time I need to conduct research. When I’m lost, I’ll spend way too much time reading articles and not enough time writing essays.
I find the sources I want to use, find the quotes I want to include, and find I’m halfway there. Besides, half the battle lies in researching.
Writing isn’t so bad once I’m in the flow state. That lovely, blissful place where words flow from your fingers onto the computer. I quite enjoy drafting a paper during the early stages.
For me at least, editing is the other half of the battle. First drafts are messy. They require a lot of time and attention to make them better.
So when the first draft reaches the final stage, I feel a sense of satisfaction. Creating something great from nothing is an achievement in and of itself.
I guess my advice to other students is to write first, research later. Come up with ideas and figure out what you’re interested in writing about. Then find evidence to support your argument.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to approach essay writing. I’m not suggesting that write first, research later is a hard and fast rule you should follow all the time.
Still, if you feel stuck at any point, have a brainstorm session without referring to any external resources.
To quote one of my old teachers, “use the gray matter between your ears.”