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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

Going from pre-pubescent PEEL paragraphs and rigid A-Level mark schemes to terrifyingly open titles and reams of critical material just waiting for you to type in ‘Nusearch’, it’s fair to say that the essay gets a glow up at university. English students like myself might compare their essays to The Monster Under The Bed: always just in our sightline, waiting to jump out and shock us when time isn’t on our side.



With questions and topics often released in the first week of term, the essay writing process can last weeks. So, let me break it down for you – here are the five stages of essay writing that we may not always aim for, but are nevertheless inevitable:


1. (Not Quite) Denial

It’s the first few weeks of your module. Maybe you’ve been researching and preparing for the term ahead, maybe your required reading is still in the post with Amazon. Maybe Moodle already has a document of essay choices due weeks, or even months away. Perusing this list triggers an avalanche of ‘evaluate’, ‘discuss’, ‘explore’ and ‘assess’. You retreat: it’s far too early to choose a question anyway…


2. Important Preparations

As with any major task, it’s important to stock up on the essentials. Cupboards fill with super-noodles, instant coffee and other shiny packeted items that never go off. You assemble your uniform of fluffy slippers and housecoat (and, if you emerge from your room at any point, sports leggings and joggers). Now, feeling essay-prepped, you might dare peep at the monster under the bed. 


3. Time Management

Student meets essay. At first the relationship seems to be going well. Sure, you spend an hour on the first line, but that’s fine, because your opening has to be perfect. When that hour becomes a day, you realise that poetic genius might have to wait and the mental probing begins: is it too late to swap questions? What was so special about this one? Why do I make such terrible life choices?


4. The Library Hermit

When your self-reflection turns to the existential, it’s time for a change of scenery. You pack your essentials (housecoat aside) and trek to campus, hoping for some creative inspiration and praying that the queue for Starbucks isn’t too long. Whether you make a beeline for a table at George Green café or try to softly munch your crisps on the fourth floor of Hallward, you soon fall down the essay-writing pit, seeking enlightenment like Mark Renton in the toilet.


5. The End of The Tunnel

Perhaps it’s 3am, perhaps you have no idea what time it is. Wrappers and disposable cups are piled up like the morning after a house party. You erratically scroll through the Assessment Handbook, desperate for a referencing formula for that obscure diary entry you found in an online journal. 


It’s time for the final flourishes: you use the ctrl f tool to figure out just how many times you used ‘arguably’ and google synonyms for that one word that you gained a small obsession for, be it ‘plethora’, ‘furthermore’ or ‘demonstrably’. Finally, you hand your baby to Turnitin. 


Congratulations! It’s time for the fifteen hour’s sleep you have been (day) dreaming of. Crawling into bed, you forget entirely about the new monsters already lurking beneath you…

Rowan Perry

Nottingham '21

Hi everyone, I'm currently in the second year of my English degree, which I'm enjoying so much I think I'm going to do a postgrad! Writing articles has always been a release for me and I'm looking forwards to sharing my work with the Her Campus readers!
2019/ 2020 Editor-in-Chief for Her Campus Nottingham A love for writing, drinking tea & chatting about uncomfortable things.