Another way to put flesh on the bones of a skinny essay is to bring the freewriting technique to BEAR after you have finished your map or brainstorming list. Once you have numbered your bubbles, have decided on an order for the development for your essay, you can then freewrite your way through this outline. Freewriting on each item enhances your chances of developing an essay which is detailed and complete. Here is how this works: Starting with the idea or focus you have identified as Number One, you are going to execute freewrites for everything on your outline. However, instead of being open-ended, these freewrites are going to be timed using a watch, clock or kitchen timer. The reason you need to time these freewrites is to ensure that each ELEMENT receives full and fair treatment. If you don't time them, there is a good chance that you will BAIL out of their development too soon. After years of experimentation my students have discovered that five minutes per element is a good time to use for the essays you will be writing in English 290. Later, as your essays become longer and more involved, you can adjust the time upward. (If the physical act of writing is difficult for you or English is not your first language, you might have to add more time to achieve the development your essay demands.) It will take two or three times of using this trick before you will have a clear understanding of how much text you generate per minute. Some of my students can easily fill a page in six or seven minutes, while others need 20 or 30 minutes to produce a full page. I fall into the latter group. If you have one, use a kitchen timer or an alarm clock for this process so you won't be distracted by "clock watching." If the PARTICULAR you are writing about feels finished and complete before the time is up, push yourself to keep writing. If you still have things to say after the timer goes off, allow yourself to run the idea out until it dries up. Once you're finished with focus Number One, move on to idea Number Two and then work your way methodically through the rest of the outline. This STRATAGEM might feel a bit awkward at first, but give it a chance because it has practical applications, too. My students tell me that this technique comes in very handy when their instructors assign five, eight or ten page papers. If you know how to shut off your Automatic Editor, map your essay and freewrite your way through an outline, even ten page papers are possible, even when they are due the next morning.


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