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Factors That Matter When Writing an Essay

Factors That Matter When Writing an Essay

In school, you are bound to write countless essays, and from my experience, the entire process can be tedious. Teachers will push to ensure the essay is well structured and meets all the requirements. For example, many times teachers will like to see the entire process you went through before handing in your essay: They want to know how you chose your topic, formed a rough draft, and picked your thesis. For you to succeed, you’ll have to know how to write a proper essay.

Over the years, I’ve created a specific outline for myself to follow each time I’ve completed an essay assignment. Today, I’ll be going over some of the most important factors that matter when writing one. We’ll be looking at the following:

  • Picking an essay topic
  • Preparing an outline
  • Writing a thesis
  • Introduction
  • The body
  • The Conclusion

Picking an Essay Topic

If you have been given free reign, then focus on a topic close to you. I’ve noticed when I write about a topic that I’m knowledgeable about, I’ll have an easier time gathering sources and conducting research.

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Writing about a passionate topic will also ensure I have previous knowledge about it so I’ll know how to guide my writing. However, if your teacher has provided a topic, and you have to find something related, then pick one with many options. For example, it’s better to write about “link building in SEO” then “weight loss soybeans” because you’ll have a broader scope. From the top of my head, there are 15 link-building strategies, and having the ability to choose makes things easier.

Preparing an Outline

This is much easier than it sounds because you’re simply summarizing what you have planned. Start by stating your topic, what points you’ll be covering, your thesis, and what you’ll include in the introduction, body, and conclusion. You’ll also want to mention the research sources you’ll be using to gather all your material.

By taking what’s in your head and jotting it on paper, you’ll be able to see how everything connects. You’ll see the ideas more clearly and what’s missing. It’s a great way to find structure in your essay and it will help with the completion because you’re organizing before starting.

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Writing a Thesis

For those of you not aware, a thesis statement reflects the main idea of your paper. A thesis has two parts—and make sure you complete both when creating an outline. First, always state your main topic, and secondly, it’s important to state your main point. For example, “The United States And Its Impact on Europe” (topic), and your thesis statement would be – “The United States Has Negatively Impacted Europe By Reducing Its Currency” (the main point).

Introduction

I like to write this part last because it helps me stay focused since I know what I’ve written about in the body. In the introduction, you’ll provide a slight history on the topic and why it’s important to you. You’ll also state the main purpose of your paper with a strong emphasis on the thesis statement.

The Body

Take this time to go in-depth on your topic. Make sure you focus on the main points and always provide the sources to back up statistical statements.

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You can also include focus keywords that are relevant to your essay. For example, when writing about “The United States And Its Negative Impact on Europe’s Currency”, you’ll want to discuss some aspects regarding the “negative impact” throughout because this is your main idea…right?

Depending on your assignment rules, it’s important to format accordingly, stick to the word count, and include whatever else your teacher outlines for you.

The Conclusion

This part is easy because, unlike your introduction where you explain what you want to accomplish, in the conclusion you’ll focus on what you’ve done and summarize everything in short form. It’s also a great place to provide your own personal thoughts on the topic. At the same time, repeat your thesis and write about how you’ve proven your main point. The conclusion should be right to the point, with a summary statement mentioned as well.

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Final Thoughts

If you still need some guidance on how to write an essay or information on how to write specific essay formats such as how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, then do a quick search in Google. You’ll find a lot of free resources. However, you can always use this quick guide the next time you sit down to write your essay paper.

Featured photo credit: thesis-masternow.com via thesis-masternow.com

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Rizvan Ullah

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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