Essay writing is an important part of academic life in college. Writing a good essay involves several steps that require a lot of effort, time, and focus. It's not surprising that writing essays isn't exactly something college students enjoy doing.
But what is the most difficult part of writing an essay? From battling writer's block and struggling with the research process to organizing thoughts and meeting word count requirements, the list is endless.
To better understand this common difficulty, we asked 10 college students with different academic backgrounds about the toughest parts of writing an essay.
1. Understanding the essay prompt and topic
One of the most difficult parts of essay writing is understanding the prompt and topic of the essay.
Ellen agrees as she says, “The hardest part was always trying to grasp the essay topic. It felt like a puzzle I had to solve before even putting words on paper. Once I could truly understand what the question was asking, everything else fell into place."
It requires analytical skills to comprehend what the task requires. Many students often fail at the first step of understanding the prompt and submit an irrelevant essay. This mostly happens during the last-minute rush.
To overcome this challenge, it's necessary to read the prompt carefully and analyze it critically. Identify critical elements like the main topic, the purpose, and the intended audience.
Also, take note of other specifications like the essay length, citations, and formatting. If you still have a challenge understanding all the instructions, discuss it with your professor or classmates before writing your essay.
Brainstorming is the process of generating ideas for an essay. This step can be challenging since it requires creativity and critical thinking. It often requires you to think outside the box and come up with fresh and original ideas.
“The initial brainstorming phase always gets me stuck and takes me the longest time. Sometimes my mind goes blank, and I struggle to come up with relevant and engaging points to support my thesis,” says Trevor.
To overcome this challenge, you can use different techniques like freewriting— writing without a prescribed structure in mind. This can help you capture your thoughts and ideas so you won’t experience writer’s block when you start writing.
3. Structuring the essay
Some students find it hard to create a structure that flows logically from the introduction to the conclusion while maintaining focus throughout the essay. This often results in an unorganized essay that’s difficult to follow.
“The hardest part for me is definitely figuring out how to structure the essay. I often find myself wondering how I should organize my thoughts in a logical and coherent manner. Once I find that sweet spot where my ideas flow smoothly from one section to another, I know the tough part is over,” says Miles.
To overcome this challenge, create an outline before you start writing the essay. Divide it into essential parts such as the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Ensure that each paragraph is concise and focuses on one specific idea.
This will help you logically organize your ideas and thoughts and help you produce a well-structured essay.
4. Research process
Research is another crucial stage in essay writing. It’s the process of gathering information and evidence to support the arguments made in the essay.
Students often find it challenging to conduct research, especially when limited by time or resources. It can also be hard to find credible and relevant sources, especially when dealing with a topic that has yet to be widely explored.
“I often find myself overwhelmed with sources, wondering which ones are reliable and relevant. It's a constant battle of sifting through articles, books, and websites, trying to extract the most valuable insights,” explains Hannah.
What’s the solution? Take it step by step – start by developing various research questions related to the essay topic. Once you have your research questions, identify relevant sources like academic journals, books, and online resources related to your research question.
Read through them carefully, take notes, and highlight important points you can use as evidence to support your arguments.
5. Writing the thesis statement
For Tereza, it’s the thesis statement. “Writing the thesis statement is like condensing all my thoughts and arguments into one concise and powerful sentence. It needs to set the tone for the entire paper, and I want it to be strong and captivating,” she says.
The thesis statement is the backbone of any essay. It’s a sentence that presents your argument and tells the reader what to expect in your essay. Writing a strong thesis statement can be challenging since you’re required to capture the essence of the whole essay in a single sentence.
To overcome this challenge, start by identifying the central theme of your essay. Then, craft a statement that directly relates to the theme but reflects your own point of view. Make it clear, concise, and specific to avoid confusion.
6. Starting the essay
Another challenging part of writing an essay is getting started from a blank page. Writer’s block can make it difficult to put your thoughts into words, and the pressure to create the perfect opening can overwhelm you.
“For me, it’s about actually getting started. It's like staring at a blank screen, feeling the pressure to come up with a captivating introduction that hooks the reader from the get-go. It’s terrifying!” exclaims Peter.
You can also try freewriting to create a rough draft of the introduction. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write anything that comes to your mind. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. This will help you organize your thoughts and get started.
Another trick that helps is to start with the main points and write the introduction last. You’ll often have a clear idea of what to write in the introduction once you’ve discussed your main points.
If all else fails, you can turn to an essay writing service like Writers Per Hour. In addition to writing, our expert essay writers can help you with topic selection, research, and citing sources. We also share a plagiarism report for free to guarantee 100% original and high-quality essays.
7. Writing an impactful conclusion
While Peter struggles with the introduction, Alanna has trouble ending the essay.
“Writing the conclusion is like tying everything together with a powerful and thought-provoking ending. I often find myself wondering how I can summarize the pain points without sounding repetitive,” she says.
It can be challenging to find the right words to wrap up your essay. Many students dread writing the conclusion since they fear that they will repeat information or be too vague.
To overcome this challenge, review your introduction and pick the main points you made throughout your essay. Then, use those points to craft a powerful conclusion that embodies the essence of your essay.
A good conclusion will restate your thesis statement and summarize your main points. You can also use the conclusion to suggest further research or to offer your honest opinion on the topic.
8. Make essays original and interesting
Writing original and interesting essays is essential to stand out from the crowd. You want to avoid plagiarism and write in a unique voice. Being unique and standing out is a challenge that most students battle with.
“For me, it’s the pressure of making essays engaging and interesting to read. It’s a battle to find that unique angle or storytelling element that grabs the reader's interest,” says Tanay.
To overcome this challenge, choose a topic that interests you and brainstorm unique perspectives or angles.
You can make your essay original by adding stories, anecdotes, examples, and personal experiences to illustrate your points. You can also use active voice, imagery, and transitions to keep your reader's interest.
What is the longest part of an essay?
The longest part of an essay is typically the body. This is where you present your arguments and provide supporting evidence. Once you've got your arguments in place, the body should be fairly straightforward to write. The key is to ensure you only present information that supports your argument and does get sidetracked with unnecessary details.
What is the most difficult thing about essay writing?
For many students, the most difficult thing about writing is simply getting started. Overcoming writer's block can be the biggest hurdle when trying to write an essay. Sometimes, the best way to overcome this obstacle is to simply write anything that comes to mind without worrying about perfection. This can help get the creative juices flowing and often leads to breakthroughs.
9. Writing in an academic style
How does one write academically in a world full of slang and social-media lingo?
An academic essay requires you to write in formal language and present arguments in an objective and analytical style. You can use technical vocabulary and clear sentences and avoid contractions.
“I’m always questioning whether I’m using the right vocabulary, adhering to academic standards, and expressing my ideas clearly,” says Yohan.
Reading academic essays or research papers can help you get a more in-depth idea of how to write in an academic style.
You can also consult with your professor and read examples of high-quality academic writing online to get an idea of what academic writing looks like. When researching, use academic sources only from approved academic journals and avoid informal sources like Wikipedia.
10. Citing sources correctly
Giving credit to other authors for their work is important in an essay. However, citing sources can be difficult and time-consuming, especially since different disciplines may require different citation styles.
“All the writing aside, what really gets me when it comes to writing essays in colleges is citing sources. It's like trying to navigate through this maze of rules and formats, making sure I give credit where it's due,” adds Debbie.
To cite correctly, read the citation manual provided by your professor and identify the citation style required in your essay. You can also use online citation generators like EasyBib or Citation Machine to generate correctly formatted citations automatically.
There are several challenges involved in writing an essay, and what may look difficult to one student may be a walk in the park for another. This means there’s no one definite thing that’s difficult about writing an essay since it all depends on a student’s unique skills and abilities.
With consistent focus and practice, you can build your confidence and be able to ace any part of the essay writing process with less hassle! If you’re still struggling, don’t hesitate to buy an essay from Writers Per Hour so you can focus on other important tasks at hand!
Last edit at Jul 27 2023