1. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    How often do you write essays?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The95Writer, Jun 9, 2014.

    ...Also, what is your intention to write essays? Is it just to write up some information gathered and to express your conclusions or something else?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I haven't written essays since I was in school, unless you count some of the posts I've made here and on a couple of other forums I frequent. Do movie reviews count as essays? I've done a few of those.

    I've done a ton of technical writing, but that's not the same as essay writing.
     
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  3. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Moved to General Writing since the Workshop should be for critiques.

    I write an essay once every month or two. They're almost always argumentative and usually political. My goal is always to persuade the reader.
     
  4. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    not in about 2 years, i should really as there is a couple of topics i want to write about in an essay form that i feel should be done, plus i want to expand on the last proper essay i wrote on Martial Arts weaponry and UK law (TBH, that was me basically BSing with enough evidence to back it up.)
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would depend on how you define an essay. By some definitions, most blog posts would be essays, in which case I write a whole lot of them.
     
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  6. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I'm with @ChickenFreak -- it really depends. When I was in a habit of writing in my journal every day, a habit I've sadly lost as of late, my entries could sometimes be considered essays, albeit personal ones, most of the time. But I was also in the habit of sitting down once a week and penning a 'serious' essay, addressing a topic I find interesting, or one in which I express an opinion. Sometimes I like writing essays better than shorts or poems. It feels more natural to me. Either that or I'm just more comfortable writing essays and unconsciously trying too hard when I write shorts or poems.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as i'm a full time practicing philosopher, i write one whenever something needs to be written about... the several book collections of my writings consist entirely of essays and what i call 'philosetry'... all of which are also available for free on my website...
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Loosely speaking, I write essays and opinion pieces all the time. They usually deal with themes of psychology, sociology, philosophy, politics or feminism, and my goal is to raise awareness, contribute my point of view, explain and persuade.
     
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  9. The95Writer
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    The95Writer Active Member

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    Okay, thanks for the feedback. Another question that relates to the topic is - What length would a piece of writing be considered an essay (word count)? As I have written large blog posts also, of which go up to 1000 words.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    An essay isn't defined by a word count. It's as long as it needs to be. Sometimes it's only a few hundred words, and other times it's tens of thousands of words.
     
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  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with @thirdwind. As long as you follow the format of introducing the topic, then discuss it, identifying various points of view and their validity, pros and cons (it doesn't have to be comprehensive or balanced, just aware of the issues) and offer a conclusion, it's an essay. It's a bit difficult to do that in just a few hundred words, but it's possible.

    I'd say usually about a thousand words is the minimum, what the 'average' is I wouldn't know, but once it starts running above 5-6k, it's either getting too verbose or it's morphing into a thesis.
     
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  12. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Well, having just finished my second year of college, I'm on something of an essay strike, now. ;) ha ha No, not really. I've written a handful of essays over the course of the year. In my free time, though, not often. As @ChickenFreak mentioned, some blogs can really be considered essays. @minstrel also pointed out (by way of a question) that movie reviews can be considered as essays.

    In the most basic of basic senses, yes, sometimes. But also no. There are many ways and reasons to write an essay, many types of essays at that. It all comes down to form. The word "essay" comes from the french word "essai" which is an argumentative style (also related to the word "essayer," meaning to try). So generally, a true essay is formed around an argument. The form the essay takes will depend on how the writer wants to build/structure their argument.

    The most basic form that I know is the 5 paragraph essay, consisting of an introduction with a thesis, 2 body paragraphs defending your argument (in literary analysis, you'll usually contextualize it with quotes and such, but in generally you'f probably pull in some outside facts to build clout), a body paragraph with your consideration of counterarguments and why you think they're wrong (i.e. refute them), and then a conclusion in which you bring all of your ideas together, restate your thesis, and offer some implication for further discussion. This is what they generally teach and emphasize in high school. It isn't exactly the "best" form, but it is an example of a functional style and one that helps reinforce logic and organization.

    There are also allegorical essay, speculative essays, explicative essays (in which you mainly break something down and explain it), philosophical essays which can be argumentative or other and many more. This is no doubt more than what you were looking for, but I hope it gives you a better idea of essays. In short, the conclusions are important, yes, but what determines an essays strength (and usually, qualifications as more than just rambling) is it's form and structure. Can readers follow the logic? Does it progress? Does it build on something? Is the theme, argument, main point, w.e expressed clearly early on, and does it become logically convincing (or at least thoroughly defended) by the end?

    As @thirdwind said, it has little to do with word count either. Although they tend to range from 500 - 6000 words, sometimes more sometimes less. I hate the idea of more though, because it can be immensely challenging to maintain a logical progression and stay on track (and interesting) for that long. Essays are an art form of their own ha ha.:p

    *... okay... teacher mode off* lol
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
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  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Essays can be book length. You said in the "Job of the Writer" thread that you were reading John Gardner's On Moral Fiction. That's an essay. It's two hundred pages long, but it's an essay. :)
     
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  14. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Good point! I hadn't thought of it like that.
     
  15. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is what we were taught in high school, and I absolutely hate it. It's way too formulaic. College essays get a bit better, but the real fun is when you're allowed to be more creative in how you get your ideas across.
     
  16. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Agreed! I was just giving an example because it's super easy to explain. Once you have more creative freedom, you can structure it anyway you want. I just wanted to emphasize how essays can be used as a form of argument. :p
     
  17. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's not the matter of 'being allowed' so much as simply exploring a topic in a reasonably systematic way. The topic can be anything, so can the structure but there has to be a point to it, something that's being duscussed, presented, contemplated etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
  18. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yeah, I know. I was just expanding on your post. :)

    Maybe, but I do feel like students are restricted in the ways they can write an essay. Perhaps this is because having a systematic way makes it easier for the teacher to grade essays. Who knows?
     
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  19. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    You're absolutely write. I think as a form, it may be pretty lame, but valuable for introducing students to the idea of structure and logical organization. When I become a teacher, I hope to make a point of using different structural forms while emphasizing logic, organization, content and so on. Composition is pretty fun, I actually bought a new book on composition to help me with tutoring.
     
  20. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think academic environment is very different from the outside world, where the rules are more of a framework, loosely speaking. One can get very creative and even write in a distinctive 'voice', without concerns about satisfying criteria and getting graded on it.
    @Andrae Smith : Essay form, academically speaking, can be very tedious, but unleashed on a fun topics, can get really interesting. I mean, Marquis de Sade's books are essays interrupted with pornography, Freud wrote the entire early psychoanalysis as a series of essays, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2014
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  21. graphicsmyway
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    graphicsmyway Banned

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    sometime it is just to write up some information i have gathered
     
  22. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    I hated writing essays in such a format as well, and I think that format is pretty standard for high school. Argumentative/Persuasive essays can be creative, logical, and formal, and can be disruptive in terms of essay structure. You want your essay to stand out, and essays that break the mold do exactly that, and in my experience are some of the best. I wish they taught that in high school English classes.

    Though I was taught to follow a structured format for essays in high school, I was never told I couldn't break the structure even if I did in an essay; in fact, I found that some teachers supported and even encouraged it (I did go to a private school). I don't think the essay format is for grading benefits. In my opinion it's more likely a result of education standards that ensure that what's taught is something all students can reasonably do well.
     
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  23. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    I would go so far as to say that I frequently write essays.

    I have published many of them for my colleagues to read on our internal network. One or two have made it out into the wider world. For example, I have one accepted in a magazine that I think is out next month.

    Personally, I love them. You can talk about anything at all. How awesome is that?
     
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  24. Chiv
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    Chiv Active Member

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    I write them all the time because that's all we've done at school for the past two years. Can't say I enjoy them very much. Honestly I'm surprised that people write them in their free time. My friends and I are always going on about how nobody will ever use them, but I guess I have been proven wrong.
     
  25. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Essays are not always just an analysis of a book, or some historical subject. Think about Blogs. They are kind of essays, aren't they? If you set out a premise, and then discuss it and conclude you have the makings of an essay regardless if it is about your favourite lipstick or why Bieber is better than....well...no. You could never argue that point.
     

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