This is too hard: Why I cannot write a decent essay

5 minutes to read
Madelief Tresonie

Have you ever considered just how difficult it is to write an essay? They can't be too long, or too short. They have to be about something that interests you, but of which you have a lack of knowledge. Moreover, you need to be able to bring something new to the field you're conducting research in. And if you're especially lucky, you'll be graded as well.

Insert your topic here

Essays reside somewhere in the space between a short opinion piece and a full-fledged paper. This makes finding a suitable topic especially frustrating.

During the course of my - so far - 18-year-long life, I've learned a lot of stuff about what feels like almost everything; the solar system, how to cut Latin sentences into the dactylic hexameter, basic cooking skills, and so on. The more you know, the more you forget. A perfect example to illustrate this, is the fact that I have indeed at some point known what the 3 basic tenets of the logical positivists were, but now I have forgotten. Is this a valid reason then to start writing an essay on this subject? I don't think so, this is just learning things for school. More importantly, you can just look this information up.

Some things are simply too hard to grasp, the question I asked myself can be too broad, or I simply can't find a proper answer, either because there is no research done on the subject or because it's just a figment of my imagination, needing no further research. Sometimes the answer I can give to the question is too long of an answer for an essay, or I'll realise that 300 words in, I've said all I've needed to say.

These things are very annoying, but won't help with picking a topic. There you are again, in the void of not knowing what to do. Should you start crying? Should you try another thing on your list and will this provide you with a realistic thing to write about? Do you have anything to say about this? What if it isn't good enough? Why am I like this? Coming up with an idea also requires a little bit of creativity, and what I am doing is just being meta. The assignment was ‘write an essay’, and I am doing so, in the form of an essay on essays.

Getting enough words is a real stuggle. I know it's a guideline, but it always feels like I am not doing enough when I have just 700 words for an assignment with a maximum word count of 1000. I don't want to let the teacher down by having too few words. I want to get as close as possible to the 1000 words, but then there is the topic screaming ‘HEY, you need to stay relevant and do not ramble on about nothing!’ I know writing nonsense does not bring my essay to a higher level, but it does get me closer to reaching 1000 words.

Essays need to add value to the world, and this aspect hurts everytime I need to think of a topic for almost everything. What is of added value? What do people want to know? With all these questions fired at me, I just want to curl up into a ball and cry in a corner somewhere. It's just very difficult and there is a pressure on me that I can't handle.

I do not know what I am good at, but I certainly know what I am bad at

In an essay, you need to describe phenomena in a concise manner, and you need to make a point. Simply describing a phenomenon doesn't cut it. But what if that is the only thing I am good at? I'm not the kind of person who likes to put herself out there and express my opinion just like that. I prefer being in the background, giving a good description, instead of being judged by a lot of people.

I know this seems like a rant against essays, but actually, that's exactly what this is. I feel sorry for the people who love essays, but it's just not my genre. I try to write an entertaining text; I want to make a text people want to read. What I don't want to write about is a topic that is far from my interests. I much prefer writing something fun, that also provides the reader with new insights, but not a real argument, that's too much for me.

Wrap it like a present

It is very pleasing to see that this essay is going somewhere now. My words keep on coming and I'm making a point. This was the whole drama about my inability to write an essay. And look at me, I'm actually doing it!

I can wrap this rant up by referring to my introduction. I elaborated on the concerns I mentioned and have now finally writen an essay. So this shows that you can actually write an essay, without knowing what to write about. I'm sorry if you wanted to read an essay that blew your mind; I can't give you that..