If You Are Writing an Essay or a Thesis


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Don’t start by researching.

Start by writing.

How else will you know what you’re looking for?


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

And it’s about an object

Acquire that object if you can.

See what it’s like to touch it

And live with it.

Witness how others react to it.

See if you can break it or make it better.

See if it changes your mind.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Ask someone else what they think about the topic.

Ask your mother, your spouse, a cousin.

Ask a postal worker, an electrician, a hair stylist.

Ask a stranger.

Ask someone whose first language isn’t the same as yours.

Truly listen to them.

Listen until you hear the story they have to tell.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Don’t build it with the bones of a dead person’s theories.

Instead, let that person be a ghost that sometimes haunts the spaces between your sentences.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Start by writing the last paragraph.

You might find that it becomes your first.

Eventually you might find that in writing

There is no first or last.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Let go of the idea that you need to say everything.

Choose one window through which to view your topic.

Make it your window.

Hang drapes and pull up a chair.

Don’t worry about the window to your right or the other one to your left.

Those windows are for other writers.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Don’t think of it as an essay or a thesis.

Think of it as a really engaging conversation.

One you might have with a friend

Until you look at the clock and can’t believe how late it is.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Remember that you have read and written thousands of words before this day.

And that you will read and write thousands more words after this day.

Today is another day you get to spend with words.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Make discovery of the new your goal.

Not reheating the frozen goods of the past.

Make as much of your meal from scratch as you can.

This is healthy for you

And it tastes much better in the end.


If you are writing an essay or thesis

Know that you do not have to act on every idea.

Some ideas are meant to be leaves

Floating by on the surface of a river.

Just let them go.

If the idea is truly important to you

It will float by again.


If you are writing an essay or a thesis

Do not feel disheartened

When you discover others have written about the same topic.

Remember, they are looking through their window

And you are looking through yours.

No one else’s window has your drapes.

Or thickness of pane.

Write from your window

As no one else can.

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