Students often forgo preparing a detailed plan when writing an essay; at most, they jot down an outline covering the main points. The idea seems to be that an essay is a fairly compact assignment – why spend an hour planning a text 500-1000 words long when you can just sit down and write it? Right?
Wrong, in most cases. Let us tell you why writing a detailed essay plan can be extremely useful.
You Won’t Miss Anything
Most likely, you grossly overestimate your ability to keep all the facts in your head – usually you will discover that you’ve omitted a vital point early on, get back to it, forget what you were going to write next, repeat yourself, and so on. Having an essay plan eliminates this problem.
It Makes Writing Faster
Students who don’t want to waste valuable time preparing a plan don’t understand one simple thing: writing a plan isn’t a preliminary part of writing an essay, it is the main part of the assignment. If you prepare a proper plan, writing in detail what the topic sentence is going to be, what points are to be covered in which paragraph and what proofs you will use, jot down facts and statistics and so on – then the actual writing of an average essay won’t take more than 30 minutes, tops.
You Don’t Have to Think, You Just Write
Do your thinking when you prepare a plan, then you will have to simply give a smoother form to your already expressed thoughts. If you remember something that has to be mentioned in some other part of the essay while you are writing, you can easily add a note to your plan and get back to it later, without tearing yourself away from the part you writing right now.
Your Essay Will Be Logically Organized
When you just go with the flow and write an essay without a plan, it tends to get at least a little bit chaotic. Points follow one another in an illogical fashion, some details are repeated more than once, transitions are sloppy – quite often you will find it necessary to rearrange the essay before it acquires a suitable form. If you are using a word processor, it isn’t a big deal, but if you are writing by hand it turns into a longer, less efficient way than writing a plan.
You Have Less Trouble with the Beginning
The most problematic part of an essay is usually the beginning. What should the first sentence be? How is it going to be connected to the rest of the essay? With a plan at hand, you think of your essay in its entirety before you start writing, and only then think about the way to lead up to it. When you write without a plan, you thrash around blindly, hoping to stumble upon the beginning that will naturally grow into something.
The obvious economy of time associated with the lack of planning is deceptive. You are going to waste much more time writing “naturally” than if you stop for a while and prepare.
About the Author
Jane Copland is a passionate PR manager at ThePensters.com – the community of freelance academic writers. She’s into writing, technology and psychology.