They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what does it take to get 3,000 words? Writing an essay of 3,000 words is asking a lot, especially if you are not used to essay writing or have never written anything of that magnitude before. In high school or college, these assignments are often due in just a few days, and can be a source of stress for those unprepared for the task. A 3,000 word essay averages out to 10 or more pages, typed and double-spaced. Luckily, this mammoth word count is attainable for anyone from students to experienced businessmen, if you focus, take your time and put forth your best effort.
Steps to Writing a 3,000 Word Essay
Select a topic of which you already have an understanding. This may seem like an obvious step, but too often writers attempt to tackle a subject that is foreign to them, simply because it seems to be easy or the popular idea. These writers zoom through a few paragraphs --- a good writer can usually piece together something out of little --- but then wind up lost in a pile of facts. If you do not know your topic, there is only so much you can say, so choose something with which you are comfortable.
Note: If you are assigned a topic to write about, ensure that you do enough research on this topic beforehand so that you become well-acquainted with what you are writing about before you begin. Don't forget to collect multiple references so that you are able to create a reference list later on. Referencing your sources throughout an essay (especially if it's a research paper) is crucial for your credibility, as it shows your reader that you have done your own research and there is no plagiarism. This is often done through in-text citations.
Pre-write on your topic. Prewriting is the first step of the writing process, and one in which you may spend a great deal of time. It requires you to do research and take notes, and ultimately arrange your thoughts for composing a first draft. Use a graphic organizer to sort your main ideas and supporting details of each, or complete a traditional outline. Before writing an essay, you should always have a general idea of what information will be used and in what order it will be placed.
It helps in your preliminary outline to write down a topic sentence for each paragraph in the body of your essay to get a solid idea of what you want each paragraph to be about. The intro of a good essay will often include your thesis statement, in which the main points that will be discussed throughout are clearly stated. So, if you can align these introductory main points with the topic sentences in the body paragraphs, you'll have a more organized writing process.
Forget about spelling and punctuation. Do not try to sound brilliant on your first draft. Get your ideas down on paper and resist the urge to edit as you compose. Some writers worry so much about every little word that their ideas get trampled in a mess of perfect language, creativity is often squelched, and frustration gets the writer no closer to the word goal. Save grammar and usage for the editing stage, and just write.
Revise your writing after completing a first draft. Once you have completed the essay, read through whatever you have written for fluency and organization. You may be attempting to reach a high number of pages, but you still need to make sure your essay is smooth. Adjust your writing as needed. Proofreading and revising is a crucial step of the academic writing process, and this is often where you can perfect your transitions in the body of the essay and ensure that you're being thorough and clear.
Note: Have a couple peers read over your first draft; they will help you in the revision process. Upon their proofread, consider asking them the following:
- Was the essay question clearly answered?
- Do I have any grammatical errors?
- Is the essay introduction clearly stating my main points?
Add details with vivid, descriptive language. Once you are confident in the structure, style and flow of your writing, begin to add vivid verbs and plenty of adjectives to further the maturity of your writing. More detail equals more words. Add until you think you cannot add anymore. Then take a break and revise a second time, again looking for gaps where information could be inserted.
Make an assessment of your word count to determine your next move. Count how many words you have written at this point. If you have met your desired word count, do another proofread to correct any remaining grammar or spelling errors before publishing the final essay.
If you are within several hundred words, do further revisions to add more detail, and you should be able to slowly work up. If you still have a long way to go before reaching your word count goal, you may need to put the essay aside for a while. Go back to your prewriting research and look for another resource to supply you with enough information to get your focus moving again or broaden your topic.
Writing a 3,000 word essay can seem like a daunting task, but going through the above steps will surely aid you in the process. Upon being assigned this essay, it's helpful to start planning right away to leave yourself enough time to successfully write it and avoid procrastination. Don't make yourself pull an all-nighter for a paper that should, if done effectively, take no more than a few hours (or less) to write!
Good luck, and happy essay writing!
- Set a goal to write a certain number of words per day, depending on how much time you have to complete the final essay. Do not be upset with yourself if you do not make the daily goal. You can always make it up the next day.
- Allow yourself to take a break between steps if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Do not be afraid to ask someone else to read your essay and offer suggestions of what you could do to increase the word count.
- Be careful to not lose focus of your topic. Do not get so wrapped up in adding words that you forget what you were writing.
- Avoid the temptation to repeat what you have already said. Redundancy reduces your paper's effectiveness. Instead, add further examples or expand on your topic.
Writing since 2008, Marisa Hefflefinger's work has appeared on websites such as SuperGreenMe, Jennifer McColm and Character Odyssey. She holds a Bachelor of Science in English education and a Master of Arts in teaching literacy and language, and she is currently working on a Ph.D. in critical literacy and English education.