At our last level 3 student led hangout (5th Feb), the topic of the essay plan (A3 for CS) came up – how did people approach it, was it easy to define a central argument, did the format asked for in the assignment make sense?
Since then and as my own essay writing has progressed, I’ve thought more about the essay plan – I found it a problematic concept with this work and have discovered why.
The essay plan asks for a linear format, from being to end. As if the route is already known. However, I see the essay as a creative process that will take shape as I write and think about the connections in my writing and my research. I’m not even sure what the conclusion will be as I write. When I reach the end, I am likely to need to re-run the loop and refine. As my sketch above illustrates, slotting a traditional essay plan into this context would be tricky.
In this context, my preference is to flag some general ideas and reference materials I consider important to the process. So, a mind map approach works well for me, but a linear plan (like I might use in a business report, even if iteratively) does not.
Mason Curry, a writer on the creative process, describes his own process as more like a crisis than a process (https://magenta.as/my-so-called-creative-process-efca2171d2c9). It seems that I’m not alone in my preference for a free-form muddle with loose boundaries when it comes to creative writing.