Always use a clarifying word or phrase with the demonstrative adjective “This”, as in “This simple advice will help ensure that you are always clear when you refer to a preceding idea in your writing.
When editing your writing, therefore, make a habit of identifying any time when you use “this” on its own. Then consider carefully to what specific idea you had used it to refer and then explicitly express that idea as your clarifying phrase
This one simple act will do as much as anything to improve the coherence of your essays.
It’s alright to procrastinate before you start to write your essays. Most of the best writers do. The American writer Ernest Hemingway, for example, used to sharpen all of his pencils before he could sit down to write. Other writers may wash the dishes or make themselves a cup of coffee.
So don’t fret if you find it hard to start writing. Better to give in to the urge to do something else to relax yourself than to sit down and simply mull over what you may want to write. Instead, make that extra cup of coffee or wash the dishes. Listen to some music and let your mind wander. You may often even find that good ideas come to you when you do.
01/09/2020: Lots of time away while I have been working hard on the edits for my new international edition. One lesson from my experience and from the book itself: writing is only half of the task and in many ways editing your first or second drafts will always be the most important stage for your projects, whether academic essays, personal essays, non-fiction or fiction.
18/09/2020: If and when you feel stuck on any project, the best approach is to allow yourself to write, even if you are simply following your thoughts without censuring yourself or being sure of your direction of travel. Trust in what I call in my book ‘the genius of the act of writing.’ As long as you remain committed to revising what you write then you can always know you can fix any problems that emerge. So be confident. Don’t let your doubts or concerns about the validity of your work in draft to stifle you. We are all more intelligent and creative in the act of writing than we are when we sit back and try to work out our structure and our final intentions in the abstract. Trust yourself as ‘the writer’ rather than as ‘the thinker.’