First you need to reject the idea that you can write the perfect sentence the first time you set out to write up your essay from your notes. Most people who do well at essays spend time planning, drafting and revising their writing. The important point to remember is to separate the writing process into two parts: the creative process and the editing process.
There is a distinct difference between creating and editing your writing. The creative part of writing is when you begin to put words together from your notes; you create the sentences. The editing process starts when you have finished writing and you begin to fix up your sentence structure and expression. You will make the writing process harder for yourself if you try to create and edit at the same time. If every time you begin to write, you stop to edit the sentence you just wrote, you will interrupt the creative flow and end up with very little on paper.
Computers make creating and editing an essay a lot easier. Besides, all markers prefer a typed essay; they’re much easier to read than the hieroglyphics that pass for some students’ handwriting. If you write your essay by hand, make sure you take the time to write clearly; it would be folly to lose marks due to illegible handwriting. However, it is advisable to use a computer and most tertiary institutions provide access to computers for students who don’t own one. While using a computer has obvious advantages, you should also be aware of its limitations.
No matter how careful you are with your computer or how expensive the equipment, eventually all computer users will experience the dreaded crash. This is where your computer jams, your disk becomes corrupt, or you forget to save your work before you exit the program. The general safety rule is to take precautions every time you use a computer. If you are spending a long time on a computer, make sure you save your document every 10 minutes. Always have two copies of your document, a ‘back-up’ on disk and one on the hard drive. If you are sharing a computer, always save your document to your disk and make a hard copy after each work session.
One final word on computers. A computer crash, an empty printer cartridge or a corrupt disk are no excuses for the late submission of an essay. Such reasons for late work are simply modern versions of ‘the dog ate it’, so forget about using them on your lecturers. The onus is on you to take the necessary precautions.