To achieve high marks at an advanced level of study it is essential that you adopt a critical approach in your written work.
Merely repeating what you have learnt will not suffice.
Rather you must reach a judgement over the topic in question.
You must decide what your main argument will be and support it with relevant facts and sound reasoning.
1. Decide on your main argument - your most important line of argument should run consistently through your essay or other written work. Further arguments, reasoning and evidence will be needed to add weight to your main one.
2. Gather the evidence - you will gather lots of evidence at the research stage of your essay writing but you must then be selective about which pieces of evidence you use.
Too many will obscure your case and make the essay difficult to read and understand, so make sure that you choose the most convincing ones and that they clearly support your main line of reasoning.
3. Consider other points of view - how could someone argue against your case? If you have considered this as you write, your work will be much clearer and more convincing.
You need to look at your arguments objectively so that you can consider not just the strengths but also the weaknesses in your case.
If you can see a weakness and perhaps see that another writer could make a completely opposite case, you should try to deal with this in your essay.
Make the evidence for your main line of reasoning stronger and also bring the opposing view into your essay with evidence that you have found against it. Balance the weaknesses you find with strong evidence.
4 Reach a clear conclusion - this is most important. If your conclusion is not clear, your whole essay will lose its impact.
From the very first words of your introductory paragraph and through all your arguments, the writing should be leading towards your conclusion.
Your readers should be in no doubt as to what your conclusion is.
It is a good idea to write down your conclusion as soon as you have decided what it will be perhaps this will be early on in your research when you have just started to gather evidence – and you may need to refine it along the way, but knowing your conclusion will give you a better chance of producing a coherent piece of work.
5 Review your work - a quick read-through is not enough for critical writing and thinking. That may just find a few grammatical errors or maybe a bit of rewriting that is necessary but with critical thinking, a deeper evaluation is necessary. You will need to ask yourself questions such as:
- Is my main argument clear?
- Have I produced sufficient evidence to back it up? Have I got specifics – names, dates, numerical data, sources and so on?
- Have I put this argument in both the introduction and the conclusion?
- Is any of my reasoning flawed?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
- Is the conclusion clear?
If you can follow these steps and answer these questions, you should be able to produce an essay – or other work – that will earn you good marks.
Writing a novel from start to finish requires writing consistently. Learning how to get in the mood to write even when motivation is low will ensure you finish. Try these 9 tips:
1: Spend ten minutes freewriting daily
Freewriting is a powerful tool for getting yourself into a productive frame of mind. It also helps you develop an essential skill for drafting – switching off your internal editor.
Sit for ten minutes at the start of every writing session and write anything that comes into your head. Write it down, no matter how trivial or ridiculous it seems. Give yourself this freedom to just write because it will help you avoid being so concerned over the quality of your draft that you get stuck.
It’s helpful to start with a specific topic when you freewrite. If the story you’re working on currently focuses on a theme (such as ‘family’, for example), decide that this will be the subject for your freewriting session. In the process, you might find sentences or even paragraphs you can use verbatim.
2: Create an inspiring writing space
Ideally, as committed writers, we can write anywhere. If you can, though, create a dedicated writing space too. A nook that is reserved for your creative play, one that is inviting and contains inspiring quotes and objects (or one that gives you a minimalist, distraction-free environment) will help you get into the writing mood when you feel unmotivated or stuck.
3: Dip into a journal of favourite writing quotes
If you don’t do this already, start now. Every time you read a book, if you read a sentence that makes you say to yourself ‘this is so true’ or ‘that’s beautiful’, write it down.
Finding pearls in your reading as you go helps you become a more active reader. You will notice more and more the craft of other writers. Copying out their most brilliant sentences helps you learn how to create similar effects in your own work.
Keep your quotes journal in your writing space. Page through for inspiration whenever you feel as though you aren’t in the mood to write.
4: Block your writing time for the week
Learning how to get into the mood to write daily is almost impossible if you never make time to write. Each week, block your writing time on a blank calendar. On Harlequin romance publishers’ blog, they recommend using different colours for scheduling different aspects of writing – drafting, revising or self-promotion.
Dividing up your available time to write this way is making a conscious commitment to your craft. If you consistently set aside time you’ll have fewer days where writing feels like an option you can leave for next week.
5: Get in the mood to write by setting yourself playful exercises or constraints
Bringing an element of play into your writing practice is a great way to get into the writing mood. Try making fun exercises out of writing scenes. One way to do this is by creating constraints. For example, you could write a scene and set yourself the requirement that it takes place entirely in an elevator.
Creating rules for a scene can be paradoxically liberating. You’re forced to find creative alternatives to any disallowed crutches, for one. This was the principle behind the experimental French writing collective OuLiPo. The group devised constraints as a way to unlock creativity. Placing constraints on setting, word use and other elements forces the writer to find interesting alternatives.
In Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees (1957), for example, the author decided as a starting rule for setting the story would explore the life of a boy who climbs into treetops and never comes down for the remainder of the story.
6: Get constructive writing feedback
When you have constructive feedback to anticipate, it’s easier to get into a writing frame of mind. Even on days where you don’t feel like writing, its easier to sit down and produce when you are accountable to others who are rooting for you to continue your story.
On Now Novel, you can get helpful feedback as you go that will help you to stay in the mood to write. Inbetween writing sessions, critiquing others’ work also helps you understand more what you like and dislike and why some pieces of writing just work while others are gruelling.
7: Leave and resume mid-sentence
Another strategy to ensure that you are always in the mood to write is to leave off and resume your draft mid-sentence. Resist the urge to complete a section and leave off at a point of intrigue or suspense. It will make you eager to return and continue forging onwards.
Ernest Hemingway offered similar writing advice when he said that you should always leave off and return while you still know where the story is heading.
8: Set small, attainable writing goals
Aspiring authors sometimes email us, saying they haven’t been in the mood to write. Unrealistic expectations of the writing process can play a part in this. If you find that you’re putting off writing a lot, it could be that you’ve set yourself goals that feel impossible.
It’s easier to get into the mood to write, even on uninspired days, when you have a smaller immediate goal that is almost tangible. Writing one scene (as opposed to an entire chapter) is something you can achieve in a single sitting.
Break up your novel into manageable tasks and you’ll find the writing mood will stay more constant.
9: Reward yourself for reaching milestones
It’s easier to stay in the mood to write and make progress when you’re acknowledging the actual progress you make on a regular basis. Reward yourself for reaching important milestones, such as finishing a chapter. Your reward doesn’t need to be lavish or involve money. It could be half an hour’s walk somewhere serene or a catchup with friends.
Jennifer Blanchard (founder of the Procrastinating Writers blog) puts it thus:
‘If you know writing 500 words comes with a reward, but watching TV for an hour doesn’t, which activity are you more likely to choose?’
Commit now to write 500 words per day and reward yourself when you meet your target. After, you can submit your extract for helpful critique from Now Novel’s writing commmunity.
Do you have tips or tricks to share on how to get into the mood to write when feeling uninspired? Share them in the comments.