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.
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.
For Peterson, writing is not just a matter of fulfilling an assignment; it is a skill with deeply existential consequences.
SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:
The first words you write are the first draft. Writing is thinking. You'll rarely know what exactly you want to say when you start writing.
The time you put into editing, reworking and re...
Most writing mistakes are widespread, but good writers just get better at spotting them. Some things you'll learn to watch for are:
When you write something, you get very close to it. It is nearly impossible to distance yourself from it straight away to edit properly.
The longer you can leave a draft before editing, the better. Half an hour to two days is enough of a break to edit well. When you do edit, read your work out loud. You'll catch more problems and get a better feel for how everything flows.
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Many people think a good essay is persuasive. But more importantly, an essay should be useful.
There are four parts to a good essay:
An essay should be correct. However, to be correct is not enough if it is vague.
Don't publish anything unless you're sure it's worth hearing. Write the first draft of an essay quickly, trying out all sorts of ideas. Then rewrite it very carefully, being sure to sift out anything that you're not sure of, or that is not true. Useful writing makes claims that are as strong as they can be without overstating it.
Strength comes from two things: thinking well, and the skillful use of qualification.
Qualifications can express many things: how broadly something applies, how you know it, how happy you are it's so, even how it could be falsified. As you try to refine the expression of an idea, adjust the qualification accordingly. The more you refine an idea, the less you'll need to qualify it. However, don't underestimate qualification. Learn to use its full range.
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You’re going on the record as someone who thinks about why they do what they do, and understands how each decision affects the results. And developing this knack for critical thinking will also make you better at what you do.