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Four Directions Writing Guide

Step 3 - Fall

Fall - Writing your Essay


Black = Fall

  • knowing

  • emotional

    Ojibwa Shelter
  • connections

  • physical

  • methodical

  • contemplative

  • perseverance

  • hold energy

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Thesis Structure

Do not be worried about a thesis having to be rigid and unchanging. It is always okay to tweak or change your thesis tree with lots of roots - like the direction your thesis could go. entirely throughout the writing process, especially when research on the topic is limited.

Think of a thesis as the trunk of a tree, with its roots gently growing in the ground. A tree’s trunk and roots are never stagnant, but constantly changing with time as it gains maturity.

If you are unsure if what you have written is a thesis statement, you can say the following to yourself  when reading your sentences.  "In this essay I will discuss ...", or "This essay will focus on ..."

(From: Wikicommons)

An example of a thesis statement:

Indigenous students need greater access to traditional foods and knowledge in an urban centre. Access to more traditional foods will not only help students with the continuation of practicing their culture and/or spirituality, but will also improve grade performance and help reduce home-sickness in those who have never lived in an urban centre before.


Note on the the use of “I” in Essays

Some professors may allow the use of “I” in order to help demonstrate exactly where a thesis is in an essay. Please ask your professor before you use "I".


For more help on Constructing a Thesis 

Write out a general outline of your essay

An outline is a rough guess on the form of your essay; it is like a tree in the winter, with branches reaching out from the tree trunk but no decorative leaves on it yet. It is the bare bones on what you plan to discuss in support of your thesis. Each branch is representative of a paragraph in your essay; they are subpoints which support your thesis.

There is no wrong or right way to create a general outline, and there are many different ways that you can create a general outline. Some people physically map it out and others write a rough skeleton of an essay. 


HELPFUL ADVICE: If possible, also meet with your professor or T.A. with your starting points and/or outline and see if they approve of your direction; if not, begin the process again or tailor your starting thesis according to feedback you receive. After all, your professor or Grading Assistant is here to help you, and most appreciate having student come up to their offices during office hours.




Writing the First Draft

Everyone has different methods for writing an essay, some like to just type it all out in one shot, others take their time and write it in segments. There is no wrong way to write the first draft of the essay.pages of first draft with colour hi-lights and hand writing

While writing your first draft, it is encouraged to have your major points written down. One proven method of good writing is to not stop and review your work as you write the first draft. Stopping to review as you write can result in fragmented ideas and losing your train of thought as to where you wish to go in terms of your essay.

Adding your Sources into your Writing

Be sure that you incorporate your research and properly cite where you got your research from. You don't have to produce perfect citation style in your first draft (e.g., APA or MLA). You can write in a short form of the author(s) or bits of a title and page number to help you remember from which journal or book your research came from. Remember to go back in your final draft and complete the citations in their proper format. 

HELPFUL HINT: Some students highlight or bold where they have left a partial citation to remind themselves to incorporate the full citation later.

On Writer's Block 

Sometimes, writer’s block can happen when writing an essay. It is unfortunate but it is a fact that it happens even to experienced writers. Sometimes, taking a break from writing is needed. Other times, you simply need more research. However, writer’s block can be easily overcome.

Here is some advice from the Writing Centre on how you can overcome Writer’s Block.



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