How to Write an Essay - The Jordan Peterson Writing Template
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An essay exists at multiple levels:
A good essay works at every one of those levels simultaneously.
Writing begins with these 3 steps:
The outline is the skeleton of the essay and provides its structure.
An essay that is 1,000 words requires a 10 sentence outline.
Write 10-15 sentences per outline heading to complete your paragraphs.
Use your notes. You can work back and forth between changing the outline and your sentences.
Working paragraph by paragraph, take each one of your sentences and write a better version of it.
Peterson advises you place each sentence on its own line and write the revised version underneath.
Within each paragraph, see if your sentences are in the best possible order. Get rid of any sentences that are no longer necessary.
Same for paragraphs: They should help the essay flow in the best, most logical progression. Move the corresponding paragraphs until they are in the most appropriate order.
After finishing your first draft: write a NEW outline of 10-15 sentences. DON'T LOOK BACK AT YOUR ESSAY WHILE YOU DO THIS!!!
The purpose of this step is to force yourself to reconstruct your argument from memory. Generally, when you remember something, you simplify it and retain only what is most important. Doing this, you will remove what is useless and keep what is vital.
To continue improving your essay, you can repeat the process of re-writing and re-ordering your sentences, re-ordering your paragraphs, and re-outlining. Add references, links, biography.
Then format it: 12pt font, tabbed idents.
Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at The University of Toronto, created a template for his students that takes them step by step through the detailed process of writing an essay.
For Peterson, writing is not just a matter of fulfilling an assignment; it is a skill with deeply existential consequences.
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