Good writers borrow. Great writers steal…
And for these essays you are writing, steal from yourself.
All of you–both my 8th and 9th grades students–are smack dab in the middle of writing your essays. Everybody is under the gun timewise to finish these essays, so make your life easier: do not reinvent the wheel. You already made a bunch of wheels.
You guys in my 8th grade classes have reams of reflections about The Odyssey; likewise, my 9th grade class has already written quite a bit about Walden. Use what you have written. Steal your thoughts and recreate them in (perhaps) a more polished and structured form–a literary analysis paragraph!
I do it all the time. And I have yet to be caught and punished.
These essays should not require you to learn or study anything new. No writer writes well about anything he or she does not understand–even though they think they do–so just use some of the stuff you have already written and make them ready for the big time.
No joy for the writer. No joy for the reader. (oops…sorry Robert Frost.)