Dear old pal Pancho writes:

I agree with everything John said, especially that reading improves writing.  So does practicing writing.

I’d add only one rule, about unity:  build each sentence around one idea.  Build each paragraph around one idea.  Each essay develops one thesis.

Mon frère is absolutely right.  He said it in a clear and concise way, so I won’t belabor the point.

It’s worth remembering that the word “essay” comes from the French infinitive essayer, meaning “to try.”  As long as you put true and faithful effort into it, you can’t fail–you can only gain experience.

Thanks, Pancho.