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 have never written anything of that magnitude before. That averages out to10 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.
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 may zoom through a few paragraphs — a good writer can usually piece together something out of little — but then they 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.
Prewrite 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 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.
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.
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, edit for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Make those corrections and publish your 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. Then, return to step 3.
- 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.