Writing is rewriting. Good writers draft once and proofread forever.
Here is a short list of activities that I suggest all writers follow.
1. State the topic to be discussed in an essay.
2. Research the topic using credible sources; seek to identify competing points of view; create an annotated bibliography
3. State the thesis of the essay.
4. Outline the essay; use the annotated bibliography for guidance.
4.a. The outline items will become the major and subordinate headings in your paper.
5. Draft the essay using the annotated bibliography to develop and document (defend) the arguments.
6. Proofread the essay; ensure each argument is fully explained and defended in clear, succinct language.
Spend the majority of your time, likely 80% of your time, on the final step, proofreading. Every good writer that I know (and I know hundreds, possibly more than a thousand), plans his or her writing schedule so that most of the time is allocated to proofreading and rewriting. Writing is rewriting!
If you have only 10 hours available to write an academic paper, spend no more than two hours on the first four steps; then, leave the significant majority of the remaining time to the writing process. Leave the majority of the remaining eight hours to proofreading (a good rule of thumb is 80% of the writing time should be allocated to proofreading).
If your annotated bibliography were well prepared, your outline will quickly appear. If your outline were well prepared, your essay draft will quickly proceed. Like a jeweler polishing a stone, writing takes time and requires precise measurements. Take the time to ensure that your reader will receive your message as you intend it to be received.
Ensure that your reader can easily understand the details of your arguments. And, remember, arguments are developed and defended by credible research! Do not present your opinion, as a student your opinion matters little. The objective of academic writing is to convey a review of the available literature and to synthesize the research into a cohesive set of arguments.
Write for your reader, not to your reader.