In 2009’s mains attempt, I got only 20/200 marks in the Essay. It was about ‘are we a soft state?’ . I wrote it only from the foriegn policy and law-n-order point of view, without seeing the cultural -historical contexts. It was a monotonous essay without any spark. Moral of the story: do try to see different angles of the subject and give a thorough thought before you start writing.
Some veterans are in opinion that you should pick up the essay on technical subject, example space-technology, advances in medical science, how IT has changed lives and so on. Because only a few people attempt them, and due to technical nature, your ideas are unlikely to be in conflict with the examiner so you’ll get more marks.
But then again you need enough ‘content’ to write 1500+ words else the padding route=digging your own grave. And there are enough toppers who wrote the non-technical essay and still got in the top-merit list so as usual for every generalisation made about UPSC, you’ll find a counter example!
I’ve been working for quite some time now, on a book that is a long way from being finished and I get frustrated because I find so little time to work on it. Frequently, I stop and go back to the beginning, or some point in the middle and read through what I’ve already written, particularly when I feel stuck, (I do this with blog posts too) and every time I find something that could be fine tuned or cleaned up in some way or another. I’ve been told that it’s better just to get the whole thing down on paper and then go back through and make the changes I want to make, but I find that the fine tuning as I go process is one that helps me to feel more confident in the writing and ultimately find my way to the goal, the finished product. Perhaps my two favorite lines from your essay: “And the books that read better are ones the writer read often while writing it. Better writers might simply be better readers.”