The first step in academic writing is proper planning. Have a look below to see where to start.
1. Understand the assignment
It's tempting to muddle through with a vague understanding of the brief but clearly a better idea is to check and double check what your tutors actually want by reading carefully. Understanding the essay brief explains some key terms.
2. Generate ideas
It's good to brainstorm ideas at an early stage - if possible you could do some preliminary research into the topic. Take a look at visual thinking and planning for some ideas about mindmapping.
3. Make a research plan
Follow up on your ideas by thinking about what they suggest to you in terms of reading and research. Consult the research skills and getting organised pages.