Jordan Peterson’s Essay Writing Guide

Jordan Peterson wrote an essay writing guide that’s pretty good.

There’s a good point Peterson makes right off the bat in his guide. Student write essays only because they are required to. Jordan believes there is an innate reason students need to want to write an essay, and that regarding it as a chore is a problem. I agree with him on this point.

Writing helps you think. Solve problems. Potentially, if you write well, you’ll be able to solve many problems. For example, you might be interested in finding out if Covid started in a lab. To get to the truth, you will have to read a bunch of research on the topic, summarize it somehow, and formulate an opinion.

This is true for every intellectual journey you want to take, and question you might like to answer.

Words, sentences, paragraphs and more

It may appear that Peterson is recommending to first think of the single word, then the sentence, paragraph and so on.

He later continues with an example from Jesus. I think both points are off-key.

You start not at the word, but at the intention. You want to write about something. This is crucial, because this sets the motivation to get you facing the hurdles of writing.

Peterson also mentions to write paragraphs that are 100 words, or at least 10 sentences. This really depends whether you are writing for school or uni, a journal or the web.

Then, Peterson writes about the paragraph:

A paragraph should present a single idea, using multiple sentences. If you can’t think up 100 words to say about your idea, it’s probably not a very good idea, or you need to think more about it. If your paragraph is rambling on for 300 words, or more, it’s possible that it has more than one idea in it, and should be broken up.


This is good advice.

It’s obvious that for myself, I need to become more methodical with my writing. After watching an Ali Abdaal video today, I felt rather frustrated. Abdaal showed how he memorized essays for exams. He started by reading a bunch of references he found on Google, then he summarized them, and paraphrased them into an essay. He then made these sort of charts of the articles to memorize. This was honest to god an amazing effort on his part, and he says it got him the number 1 essay grades or something like that.

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