Literature and academic writing about literature are both creative endeavours, but each in quite different ways. ‘Good writing' within the context of an academic degree has little or nothing to do with being creative, innovative or poetic. Rather, it means being able to produce clear, cogent arguments, usually in response to a question set by your lecturer.
It is always advisable to read widely and to integrate aspects of that reading into your work. What you are required to do in your essays, however, is to position your individual ideas and arguments in relation to those of other critics in the field.
You should not be overly deferential or allow the ideas of others to steer you off track. Rather, you should aim to make use of the work of other critics in fashioning your own arguments, whether by taking issue with their claims or interpretations, applying their interpretative strategies to different texts, or arguing that their work fails to go far enough in its application or assessment.
The process of writing essays involves four basic stages: reading, planning, writing, and revising. If any of these stages is missed out or done badly, the quality of your work will be impaired.
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