Writing Discursive compositions (Secondary level) (Part 2): Rationale behind discursive essays


This is my second post on discursive writing. For my first post, please click here.

Before we discuss the reasons for writing discursive writings, let’s have a little quiz:

1. Do you aspire to be a columnist or commentary writer?

2. Do you like to discuss life and social issues instead of weaving a story from scratch?

3. Do you like to analyse societal/philosophical issues?

4. Do you like to see consider societal/philosophical issues from different perspectives?

If you answer “yes” to 2 or more questions above, then you have the motivations to engage in discursive writings.

I believe that the world can generally be divided into two types of individuals, although a clear line cannot be drawn because all of us share attributes from both types.But one type usually predominates.

So, here are the two types of people:

i. Creatives: This is the type of individuals who are interested in creating entities based on (at times abstract) concepts, thoughts, design, ideas etc. These individuals are more suited for personal or narrative writings. If you belong to this category,  try taking a look at my previous blog series on storytelling.

ii. Analysts:  This is the type of individuals who tends to analyst things from various perspectives, and who are more interested in figuring out the whys of global happenings than creating fictitious tales from scratch. If you belong to this category, please continue reading this blog post series, of which the first blog post is here (Just click, no worries. It opens a new window. 🙂 ) (Note: This is the second blog post of this series).

Regardless of which category you belong to, let’s explore the rationale of writing discursive essays and, hopefully, in the midst of exploring, you will find your inspiration and motivation in writing it.

There are basically two main reasons why one would choose to write a discursive essay:

  • Expressing one’s thoughts into words: There is a reason why most self-help writers encourage us to put our goals into words.  Analytical writings enable us to see things better when they are visual rather than mental. And more importantly, visuals (especially when we are exposed to them continually)  thrust us into action. Similarly, putting down our mental analysis into words actually increases our accuracy and foresight of the subject matter. This is why detectives draw visuals on white boards when investigating a crime and why corporate employees paste “Post-It” notes on white boards during the brainstorming phrase. Such a process coalesces one’s (or everyone’s, if it’s a team’s analytical efforts) thoughts into a visual process that is more logical and coherent. For an exercise, you can try thinking of an issue for a while and then taking a journal and writing down your thoughts on them. Then compare the two outputs and you will see for yourself that your analysis in writing is the more cogent and coherent of the two. In fact, you will probably realise that there are extraneous details you have put down in writing, something that you have not recognised or identified when you are thinking. 
  • Understanding an issue from multiple perspectives: Writing discursive essays also enables you to understand issues from multiple perspectives. When you compare this with argumentative essays, you will realise that discursive essays is a more balanced type of writing while argumentative essays are inclined towards being more persuasive and convincing. Hence, one engages in discursive writing to explore and identify more perspective within a single issue, and be more judicious in  one’s judgement over time. This is not to say that argumentative essays have less value (we will explore the value of argumentative essays in my next blog series).

So, if you are a student or if you are someone who is about to embark on a journey to write discursive essays, I would advise that you take a look at the two points above. If you fit into either one or both categories, it implies that you do have an interest or passion in such writings. However, it does not imply that you have a flair for such writing. To develop such a flair, please read my next post on discursive essay writing structures.

Author’s background: Patrick Tay is an English Writing Specialist who lectures in various polytechnics in Singapore, and coaches students in English as a private tutor. His professional services can be found here


2 thoughts on “Writing Discursive compositions (Secondary level) (Part 2): Rationale behind discursive essays

    • Hi Anonymous,
      Thanks much for the correction. I appreciate it. 🙂
      Yes, even writing specialists makes mistake, and grateful to those who have an eye for detail and who take the initiative to highlight it.

      Warmest Regards,


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