How to Use your Reading in your Essays

Second edition

by Jeanne Godfrey

Points to remember about writing

  • Writing often starts in an informal and/or creative way, and is only critically examined and formally shaped at a later stage.1
  • Process is as important as product - notes, plans, drafts with mistakes, redrafts, and revising, editing and polishing are all valuable written products and stages in their own right.
  • Showing your students examples of your own writing process (notes, drafts and then a finished piece of your work) will often give students confidence - they need to know that experts and professional writers do not magically produce a polished piece of writing from the start but that we revise and correct our own writing many times.
  • Writing can be a shared and collaborative process, and written work can be reviewed, questioned and discussed by peers and/or in peer groups.
  • Any formal writing task given to students should have a clearly stated purpose, audience and form.
  • Student written reinterpretations and reformulations of what they have read (i.e. paraphrases and summaries) can never be practiced enough.
  • Writing tasks do not have to be long to be useful, in fact often students need to concentrate on quality rather than quantity - less is more.
  • Writing doesn't always have to be marked, assessed or even always looked at by you - writing in itself develops writing skills.


  1. ^ Elbow, P. (1998) Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process.
© Jeanne Godfrey, 2009, 2013, How to Use Your Reading in Your Essays, Palgrave Macmillan.