One of my favorite modern writers is Kazuo Ishiguro, author of extraordinary novels such as The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and When We Were Orphans. Aren’t his titles wonderful? He recently published his first book in 10 years, The Buried Giant, and Anna and I were lucky enough to hear him speak this week at the University of Chicago about his new book and his writing process. He explained how when he is first starting a new book, he concentrates solely on the ideas.
He pays no attention to form or style; it’s all about getting the important ideas onto the paper. The polishing is secondary, and there’s no need to worry about it until later drafts.
Now, the college essay is much shorter than a novel, but students can learn a lot from Ishiguro’s process. When you start writing, just focus on the ideas and getting the important and essential points across. Run on sentences, dangling participles, and clichés are fine at this point! You can fix all of that later.