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I was never that good at writing essays, especially if the essays require works cited or sources. I have a basic idea of the methods but how do I practice making a good essay I am no longer in school anymore but I would like to practice writing essays on my own time.

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I think your question has two parts: practicing and evaluation.

Practicing you do, obviously, by practicing. The more you write or plan, the better you become. There is the unproven rule of thumb that experts in any field spent sth. like 10.000 hours on the subject. Some truth seems to be in it.

So, try whatever you can. Apply your known methods, e.g. by picking some events which happen around you. Look for tutorials, try them, adjust the findings to your needs.

Evaluation probably is best done together with other people. There are writing circles, both off- and online, where authors share their essays and get feedback, suggestions, discussions etc.

So, do a little search and find your community, be it here, a forum, an association etc.

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    Alright. Thanks.
    – GAP
    Jul 5, 2023 at 13:40
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Like @MS-SPO, Practice is important. Keep writing essays on every topic you can imagine. I'd go as far as taking positions in your essays that you disagree with since this will help train your mind in how to shape convincing arguments.

Reading essays is also an excellent method to learn to write better essays. Read well-regarded pieces and bad pieces. From bad essays, we learn to recognize what doesn't work. From good and great essays we learn what does work. The problem with reading great essays is that a skillful writer can construct their arguments so subtly that their technique is difficult to discern.

Submit your essays to free contests and to newspapers and online forums. It's not for the ego gratification of seeing your words in print but as a method to gauge your art, independent of your own judgment.

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This depends a bit on why you want to be good at writing essays. Is it for yourself, your own desire to be able to write well. Or is it because you would like to study and get better marks than you would otherwise?

If it's the first, or a mixture of the two—and even of it's just for the second reason—you do need to practice. However, there's a big problem here. You can never become a really good essay writer (or any non-fiction writer, in fact) if you do not understand a) what you are trying to communicate, b) who you are trying to communicate it to and c) why you are trying to communicate it.

Good essay writing is about good communication. The most important thing is for your message to be clear to your reader. The different formal aspects of writing an essay can help you hear. A good introduction which sets the scene of what your going to write about, a good structure for the body of the essay, where each paragraph has a single clear message which is clear to the reader (usually signalled by a sentence which makes it very clear to the reader what the topic of the paragraph is a bout). A clear conclusion which recaps the points that you've covered in your essay and closes the question.

If your essay is meant to be a university level academic essay, then your introduction should have no excess fluff. It should explain any background necessary for the reader to understand the issues. And completely unlike a good detective story, it should tell the reader exactly whodunnit, as it were, and set out what you are going to talk about in each paragraph and what your main argument is going to be. Your conclusion should basically repeat this.

If you're going to practice writing these kinds of academic essays, you really need some people who are willing to read what you have written and give some kind of feedback. It's difficult to see what your problems are yourself.

However! If you are wanting to write better essays to be a better communicator, to hone your persuasive arts, to write non-academic essays, then your task is a bit easier. The first thing to do is to find stuff that you want to write about, that you actually want to communicate with people. And then you need a forum, a venue where you can 'publish' your essays and watch how they do in the wild, assess them yourself, get feedback from others.

Good feedback is when it helps you understand that people did not understand what you were saying, or did not quite get the way it was meant to come across. Good feedback is when you hit a nerve, when people tell you that something you wrote was good. It's when you realise that you've persuaded people with what you've written or helped them learn something, informed them about something. It's when you've said something that other people haven't. And it's also when you realise that this thing that you wrote worked better than that one. And you start to see why bits of your writing are more successful than others. And when you start to know that some of your writing works and so that it's good.

Yes, there are writing competitions there are magazines and other forums where you can write stuff and get feedback. But it's slow. I'll let you in on a secret. There's a series of question and answer sites called Stack Exchange. There are loads of different sites dedicated to different topics. Loads of these are fairly suitable for short bits of writing. Politics, history, English language and Usage and many, many more. On each of these sites, you'll find a few dedicated users who are basically mini essay writers, parctising their craft by writing about subjects that interest them or that they know about and want to communicate with others. Sometimes they are not extperts in those subjects when they start, but they do their research, share their knowledge about the stuff they can answer. Learn, research, write and write. It's a very good way of getting informal feedback on the success of your writing skills. And you can write and post as much as you want. And your doing something real and something useful Your helping other people and sharing real knowledge (if you've done your research right at all).

Thats's the whole reason I'm here. I'm not a fiction writer, usually, because it's not what I do best and because I have to do too much academic writing. However, I've spent several years on different sites on the Stack Exchange network writing stuff that I know about. Bit by bit I've probably written enough for a couple of PhD theses. And I'll tell you, it's helped me massively with writing my real thesis, and with writing professional journal articles and with my academic writing altogether. And it's fun.

Of course, you can't use SE to write long essays, but the practice of writing organised and informative or suasive pieces often for authentic reasons is unbeatable practice for writing essays of any length later on.

So, I suggest you find a home here on the SE network and get going as soon as possible!


So why am I here on SE Writing, and what have I got no rep? You may well ask. Well, now I'm handing in my thesis I might just try and learn a little bit about writing fiction or non-academic stuff. And try and get some feedback maybe too on one of the writing challenges on Meta, for example. However, I'm not very good at that. I'd prefer to do it incognito for now!

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