English Essay Writing

English – If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way

In the words of Seamus Heaney, our most beloved bard, “If you have the words, there’s always a chance that you’ll find the way.”

Find Your Voice

The study of English offers the student an ideal opportunity to find their voice, to carve out a very real avenue for the authentic expression of your thoughts and opinions. As English teachers, we seek out and actively reward your views and opinions. English Paper One offers you the opportunity to truthfully express yourself. The composition offers you the chance to articulate your views, your life experiences and your opinions in an authentic way.

Writing in a creative fashion offers the English student an opportunity to express themselves in a real and authentic context. This section of the exam is your chance to shine. The composition compels an in-depth personal engagement with the set task. Be clear on your task here. This is your chance to play to your strengths. Be aware of what type of genre suits your abilities. Written composition is a complex activity requiring the student to perfect the mechanics of writing, spelling and the basics of language knowledge (i.e. syntax, correct phrasing, and vocabulary). The essay, although initially daunting, presents a level playing field for students. You do not need any other skills other than the ability to write.

Take inspiration from the greats

The literature on your Leaving Certificate course gives you the opportunity to grab a glimpse into the minds of some of the greatest literary minds the world has ever known. Your study of English provides you with the skills to truthfully express, not only your own views; it also grants you the honour of examining the work of some of the formative writers of our time.

It is a myth that great writing comes naturally. Even the greatest writers compose drafts upon drafts of their work before publication. Writing means taking time for you. A diary is a great way to begin and if you can make it a daily habit, it will prepare you for many of the topics that come up on the paper.

Writers improve their writing style through practice, even if it is only to scribble a paragraph or two in a quiet moment. Don’t overthink it! Take time to just scribble words on the page. No one need ever see what you have written. Let me assure you, the blank page is terrifying for any writer. The sooner you write words on the page, the more comfortable you will be.

When you are working on a piece of personal writing for homework, it may be useful to make a rough draft of your work. Most professional writers will compose draft after draft until they are totally happy with the finished product. In the exam, you won’t have time for writing a rough draft. However, I always find it is a good idea to say the sentence a number of times in my head before I put pen to paper until I come up with the sentence that best captures my idea. You already tweet or write on Facebook. Make that more formal and write a diary piece every day. It will get you in the habit of expressing yourself through the written word.

Base your stories on real events

Too often, I see students trying to make big leaps of imagination when writing essays and not succeeding. They are simply in unfamiliar territory. Take small leaps of imagination. Base your stories on real events. They don’t have to follow exactly the event that happened, but a true event is the best platform for launching your imagined story.

To take a small example: Think back to when you took your first stroke as a swimmer or your first press on the pedal of a bicycle and you wobbled but kept going. “I was floating, I was flying. I was free, dizzy with the new possibilities”. Nobody need ever see your jottings; just make sure you have practiced before going into the exam situation. When the writing craft becomes as instinctive to you as storytelling, you will have a great essay in the making. Keep writing and enjoy.

Success is built on daily little steps and good habits

The journey over the next few weeks and months is not an easy one, but once the decision is made to travel it seriously, it becomes a lot easier. It will bring you to a better place, a more mature level, and with that, it will give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. With the right mindset, this journey can be fascinating and exhilarating.

Success is built on daily little steps and good habits, and the little bit of discipline it takes to follow through on these. . The road to the Leaving Cert should not be a solitary one; support each other as you make your journey towards your exams. The study of English will give you the words, and it is up to you to use them to illuminate your way through life.