As a student, you may have written an essay or would be required to write one as part of your academic curriculum. If you are yet to go through it, you have not experienced it yet. But you may have heard what it takes to write an essay. Thus you most probably know the difference between an ordinary regular assignment and an essay.
What we are going to discuss in this article is not only about an essay, but also what you learn in the process of preparing for and writing an essay. The learning that will stay with you for a lifetime. The lessons that will help you prudently face challenging situations in your personal and professional life.
We are talking about an extraordinary ability called critical thinking that you learn during an essay writing process.
Every time you face a hard time or a challenge, you become stronger. A challenge, be it in professional life or in academic life, brings new learning, a new way of thinking, and a new way of seeing the world. An essay writing task is such a challenge and requires you to deal with using your critical thinking skills.
An essay is not just an academic assignment, it’s more than that
To those gone through this stage long ago and are set in their life, it’s just a task required by schools, colleges, and universities. And that’s why many consider it a time wasting and boring activity. Many of them even have forgotten or even completely missed the purpose of essay writing in a student’s life.
But those of you who have to go through it yet should understand its real purpose. Since this is something unavoidable, it will be helpful to know its benefits.
Before we go further on this, let us understand what an essay is.
An essay, in a simple meaning, is something that you convey in a written report with your arguments and facts that are not your own vague conclusions, fictional thoughts, and biased opinions but are based on observations, real-life experiences of yourself and others, deliberate research, and systematic analysis.
In a formal definition, an essay is a written document following a standard structure containing a topic or title, statement, introduction, body and conclusion created by conducting research, surveys, and analysis in a given field or subject.
It can be clearly understood from these definitions that writing an essay takes more efforts, resources, tools and skills that you need in a small piece of content like an article, short paper or a regular academic assignment.
Writing an essay prompts you to think critically
The word essay was used by Michel de Montaigne for his work contained in three books that were created, published, and revised during the period of 1570 to 1592. The original word is essayer which is a French word meaning to try or test something.
That said, an essay is the work of trying and proving something. The author of the essay essentially tries to prove his or her point or statement with arguments and facts derived from their detailed research on the topic.
This has been one of most favourite forms used by the literary scholars and authors as it enables a person converting ordinary things into something classy and engaging lines. The power of essay writing skills is proved by the works of many great authors and thinkers like Montaigne, Emerson, Camus among many others in the past.
One of the main purposes, why the essay is required at the academic level, is to develop deep and critical thinking in students. The process of gathering information and converting it into a structured form actually takes the self of a writer to a level that can touch the hearts and minds of the readers. We can understand this better by reading some essays by the famous thinkers of the past.
If we take some excerpts from Montaigne’s essays, we can see that it’s rock hard in depicting the self as a character. Though the works of Montaigne and other great thinkers may not be relevant in the context of modern times, we can’t ignore their impact as solid writings and the way they convey their thoughts.
Regardless of the context or the relevance in today’s world, they have an undeniable place in the field of literature. They have been and will always guide the students with their deep philosophical understanding and art of using words to describe their thoughts and opinions. It’s their contribution that has helped many writers and authors shape their own styles and stances. And the literary world has to be thankful to them for making it a field that has been enabling its members to have high convincing capacities.
Essay writing skill helps in almost all areas of life
Almost all academic institutions all over the world have essays as part of the curricula. Students are supposed to take this assignment as a learning opportunity that will work for them in their real-life situations. A person good at writing an essay will find it easy to write communication letters, explanatory notes, detailed evaluations, reports, and documents. Find helpful hints.
Businesses and media are the main beneficiaries of this skill since the information and content they have need to be converted into an interesting and engaging piece that readers will love to read. Those who have written effective essays can produce meaningful and bounding content out of simple informational material. And the force behind this is their ability to think critically which gives them the perspective that the general public may not have when a simple thing is presented to them as is.
Essay writing teaches you to present your thoughts critically that don’t have to be true in everybody’s eye
One crucial thing about an essay is its impressive convincing power. The ability to answer the questions for which disapproval is almost obvious and still being able to convince people to think and accept it as a viewpoint shows the strength of this skill. That’s called the art of arguing, the art of convincing.
Above all, since the meaning of the original word “essayer” is “to try”, the idea of asking questions and working towards finding the answers is the essence of the learning process of essay writing. It may be that you don’t have the ultimate answer. But whatever thoughts you present with the support of your arguments, your writing will compel the readers to take them as a starting point. A point from where the journey of attaining a complete answer can be started.
On the other hand, an essay doesn’t always require hard facts. Rather, it requires critical thinking that sets them apart from other people. The subject they explore may have many forms of viewpoints and that’s where the beauty of critical thinking lies. It means you can have your thoughts and present arguments in their support. Not everybody has to agree with you. Nor it has to be completely relevant in every situation or every point in time.
In conclusion, when you are writing an essay, your aim is to prove your main idea with an effective statement and strong arguments. You explore the field, find the facts, come up with your observations, lay down your opinions and conclude with a genuine idea that can become a founding stone and the core reason for others to think about. That’s what essay writing process teaches us.
Stephanie Ward is an academic writer and editor, expert at writing guides for students.