Writing an essay is rarely on a student's top 10 list of things to do at school. A lot of the time, this type of assignment is greeted with a collective groan from the class. If you approach it logically, however, and follow 10 basic steps, you can write an essay that you and your instructors will be satisfied with.

The key to writing an effective essay is good preparation. As you look through this list, you will notice that you don't immediately pick up your pen or approach the keyboard and start writing. Take the time to conduct your research and develop your ideas first. It will help you to become a more effective writer.

1. Research your topic

Gather materials related to your topic. Go online and visit your local library. You may even want to find an expert on the subject matter and conduct an interview. Take detailed notes so that you can refer to your findings later on.

2. Analyze your findings

Once you have gathered information, you can start to analyze what you have found. Go over essays other people have written on the topic. See what kinds of arguments they have used to support their arguments. Look for the strengths and weaknesses in their logic.

3. Brainstorming ideas

Your essay needs to be unique. Start asking your own questions about your topic, and then answer them. Turn off your internal editor and just write down anything that comes to mind at this point. Keep listing your insights until you can's come up with anything else. You can sort them out later on.

4. Write your thesis statement

Turn your best ideas into your essay's thesis statement. This is the sentence that will form the basis for your essay. It will have the main points you will be covering in your piece, and will tell the reader what he or she can expect to find out about as they continue on to the rest of your work.

5. Make an outline

Before you start writing your essay, make an outline of the points you want to make. Use one-line sentences to keep you on track. You will be fleshing it out later on, so don't worry if you don't have a lot of detail at this point. Use bullet points to describe that you want to cover in each paragraph. This is the point where you can experiment with the order of the paragraphs, too. You will want to map out exactly how you want your work to flow, to ensure that it makes sense.

6. Write the introduction

Now you can sit down to start writing your essay. The introduction should be one that immediately grabs your reader's attention. Keep the first couple of sentences short, if you can. Ask a question or use a quote, if it seems appropriate. Explain the issue you will be discussing, and include your thesis statement. Plan to spend some time on this part of your essay, since the introduction will be the most important part of your paper. Don't rush through it.

7. Add supporting paragraphs

The supporting paragraphs should all relate to the points you have made in your thesis statement. Begin each one with a statement and then expand your idea in your supporting sentences. Let each idea build on the previous one. That way, you won't leave a thing out.

8. Write your conclusion

This is the paragraph where you wrap up your ideas and finish your work. You will also want to add something extra at this point, such as a quote or a call to action. Give your reader something to take away that he or she was not aware of before reading your paper.

9. Add citations

You will need to format your essay before submitting it. Make sure all quotes are cited correctly, and that you have prepared a references page listing your sources.

10. Proofread and polish

Before you hand in your essay, you need to give it an extra look. Go over it a couple more times to make sure you are satisfied with your work. Look for choppy and run-on sentences. Make sure it's not too casual or too formal, and check your formatting before handing it in.

By following these 10 easy steps to essay writing, you will make the process much simpler and less stressful the next time you have this type of assignment.

Author's Bio: 

Leslie Anglesey is a paper writing specialist who works and as a consultant at EssayTigers. She is proficient in blog writing, academic essay writing and online freelance networking.