I need to write an english essay (450 words) on "Life" and have no idea on where to even start. Does anyone have any ideas for me?I want to try a diverse approach, encompasing the biological, and...

I need to write an english essay (450 words) on "Life" and have no idea on where to even start. Does anyone have any ideas for me?

I want to try a diverse approach, encompasing the biological, and philosophical components of "Life" but I just can't find that inspiration I need to start the essay. Once I've got that, I'm sure it will just flow.

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What kind of an essay?  Does the mode matter (narrative, descriptive, expository or argumentative)?

Good writing doesn't necessarily "just flow."  Contrary to popular belief, good writers are not just born, they take their natural talent and train and practice - like olympic atheletes.  Before writing, I encourage you to consider the "rhetorical triangle" before you brainstorm.  Who is your target audience?  Who are you (what do you wish to communicate as the author)?  And, what is your purpose for writing?

To be perfectly candid, as a teacher I try to avoid broad topics like this because it tends to produce whole stacks of "philosophical" ideas.  No offense, but philosophy according to 12th graders, in my experience, never quite comes across as original or particularly interesting.

That said, if your options for mode of writing are open, I encourage you to write a narrative essay - and tell a personal story from YOUR LIFE.  First, it will be naturally cohesive - less risk of straying from the topic (which, by the way, should be narrowed down from the HUGE idea of "life").  You will also appeal to a much wider audience - it is a fact that narratives are entertaining.  As a 12th grader, you can't hope to do much more than entertain, and possibly emotionally move your audience.

I hate to be the voice of reality here, but an adult audience will hesistate to take the voice of a high school student as any sort of authority.  The ideas of "biological" and "philosophical" are far less likely to produce something original.  A story about yourself, on the other hand, is only yours.  Use your perspective and your age to enhance your writing, rather than paint you into a corner.

These are just ideas - to help you get started.  Aside from grammar/technical problems, the most prominent problem I experience with student writing is a fear of being authentic and personal - but think about all the great ANYTHING of the world (writers, actors, artists, musicians) - they are often successful because they are just authentically themselves.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sometimes a broad topic brings out the creative in us on accident. Writing is one of our most complex but beautiful processes in art and we all (once literate) have the ability to try it. I imagine your teacher it trying to give you room to experiment so early in the school year with your voice and ideas as a writer.

So what do you think about Life?

What is mankind's purpose for being here? Does it have anything to do with a grand master plan, or do different living things fit into some kind of structure or puzzle?

What might be your purpose(s) for being here?

Think about your audience. Is this for a biology teacher or English teacher. Your voice will need to be somewhat scientific for the bio teacher, and more crafty for the English teacher.

If you get an idea and start free writing, that is some good pre-writing action, but it will need to be cleaned up before you turn the whole thing in. If you get going and you have a more specific question, feel free to message me.