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Fly's avatar

How does one motivate oneself to write a powerful essay on a subject which one feels emotionless about?

Asked by Fly (8726points) September 9th, 2010

I am assigned to write an essay about William Golding’s views on life and society based on the novel Lord of the Flies. Unfortunately, I am just not feeling it. I normally have no problem writing, but I simply cannot get the words to come out this time. Everything that I write is coming across very cold and unconvincing, despite my best efforts to make it powerful and engaging. What can I do to make my essay strong when I do not feel so strongly myself?

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16 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Start with a good outline, and then concentrate on the grade you want to get while you fill in the particulars.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You have to fake it or look around to see what’s been written by people who have been inspired by LotF – I love that book, it’s got a pretty simple message…is that why you feel cold about it?

Austinlad's avatar

Depending on how tight your deadline is, you ought to try to get away from your computer—from the pressure of your workspace—and let your mind roam free for a while. I would also suggest watching the original (not remake) for ideas.

Fly's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir To be honest, I really disliked the book, so I’m sure that’s why I’m having such a problem. Usually I have no problem feigning emotion, but I’m having a lot of trouble today for some reason. Our teacher is also forcing us to write using a certain procedure (outline, writing one timed paragraph for her to look over, etc.) that is really not working for me, so I think that has really messed me up.

Trillian's avatar

You can make sure to use powerful, active words rather than passive voice. You must have some opinion about the book. Sum it all up in your head a make a thesis statement out of it. You should then be able to come up with at least three points that support it. I agree with @Austinlad. Walk away for a bit and think of something else.
Think of why you disliked the ook. That in iself may lead you to your thesis. You can write about how shitty people are when they have enough people to form a society, inevetably making one an outcast….even in the face of possible extinction.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Fly No reason why your essay can not be about why the book doesn’t address society properly.

HungryGuy's avatar

You don’t. Or at least, you’ll never write a powerful essay. Write your essay on something that you do feel strongly about. That’s the only thing I can tell you.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I agree with Simone, unless that is not how you feel. There are two movie versions of the book, and while it goes against my grain to suggest it, you might consider watching one or both of them to get a different perspective that could help out.

janbb's avatar

Can you get a bit away from your feelings about the book and write about your feelings about the theme of the book? Do you think a society should be based on cruelty and unfairness? Do you think we all revert to barbarianism if left alone? Being Auggie’s daughter, I can imagine you feeling passionately about those concepts.

Fly's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir et al, I appreciate the thought and wish I could write about something else, but I am stuck prompt-wise. I guess I’ll try walking away from it for a while and try again later.

Seek's avatar

What’s your prompt? is this for high school?

crazyivan's avatar

Hungryguy has it right and so does Simone. Your not going to write anything powerful unless you can at least force yourself to have an emotional reaction to your subject matter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still write a great one. It’s easy to write about books you love, easier to write about books you hate, but the ones that don’t stir you one way or the other are tough.

If all else fails, fake it til you make it. Deadlines can be the enemy of greatness, but the friends of inspiration.

Jeruba's avatar

Even if you didn’t like the book, you could look at the main themes and see how they relate to things that do stir your feelings. For example, how about false accusation and unjust punishment? How about bullying? How about group persecution of the outsider? If you have feelings about any of those things, you have the basis of an essay. Then use references to LOTF to illustrate your points instead of making your points about the book per se.

crazyivan's avatar

@Jeruba Oh, you’re good… ;)

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks. Miles and miles of essays line the road behind me.

hobbitsubculture's avatar

Like others said, you have to find an emotional reaction. Any opinion, any little bit of feeling you can dredge up, is a starting point. Try to ask yourself questions and brainstorm a bit. Just scribble down anything for a few minutes. Why do you feel emotionless about Lord of the Flies? Do you think this is a matter of taste, or a failure on the author’s part? What do you think of the characters? What was the author trying to do?

You said in another comment that you disliked the book. In my experience, teachers and professors are fine with essays that express dislike of the material, as long as you can make your point.

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