How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay from Scratch

Learning to write a 5 paragraph essay from scratch can seem one of the most daunting tasks in academia. There are, to be sure, far more challenging tasks that lay ahead, but sometimes that first modest hill can seem an insurmountable mountain.

Still, mountain climbers generally look for some kind of guide, and in that tradition, here to guide you are a few pointers to keep in mind when thinking about how to write a 5 paragraph essay from scratch.

No Essay is Written Completely “From Scratch”

This may seem a bit of a betrayal with respect to the original promise, but stay with me here. An essay is essentially a restatement of different ideals which you already have—in its most basic terms, that’s all it is, just you giving either your own ideas or relating someone else’s views on a given topic. As such, you already have a starting point when it comes to essay writing, because you already have access to the most important ingredient from the start, namely, your own thoughts and ideas. All you have to do is get them down and refine them.

Basic Structure

A 5 paragraph essay has a basic structure—introduction, three main body points, and a conclusion that either ties it all up in a neat package or else serves as a the final point towards which you’ve been building. If you’re writing a 5 paragraph essay for a class, especially if it’s for a lower-division class, this is generally what’s called for. That being said, you shouldn’t be a slave to this format (unless, of course, that’s what the assignment requires.) A 5 paragraph essay is really an oversimplification of the basic principles of essay writing, and there’s a world of different ways to approach an essay and bend and break that basic outline.

Good Writing Habits

If you find yourself struggling when it comes to the task of writing a 5 paragraph essay from scratch, you may want to change your overall writing habits. Different habits and environments work better for different writers. For example, Romantic poets like Byron and Keats took inspiration in taking a walk in nature, while other writers, such as Anthony Trollope, find it helpful to keep a rigid schedule. Some work better in silence, and others can’t stand writing without at least a little bit of background noise or music.

Find your comfort zone, embrace it, sit back, and start thinking up the basic outline for your essay. Always outline your essay before writing it, unless outlining itself gets you stuck.