Producing incisive and clear written work within a word limit is an important skill in itself, which will be useful in many aspects of life beyond university.
Good, constructively critical feedback can give you excellent guidance on how to improve your essay writing.
Instead, you can catch all of your ideas, in no particular order, on a sheet or two of A4.
Once they are down there it will be easier for you to start to review them critically and to see where you need to focus your reading and note taking.
The most important starting point is to listen carefully to what the essay title is telling you.
You need to read every single word of it, and to squeeze out as much guidance you can from the title.
So don’t be afraid of writing down your ideas before they are fully formed, or in the ‘right’ order.
Writing is an active and constructive process; it is not merely a neutral recording of your thoughts.
To produce a high quality essay you need to demonstrate your ability: The need to use such a wide range of academic skills is probably the main reason why the essay format is so popular with tutors as an assignment.
The word limit adds to the challenge by requiring that all of these skills be demonstrated within a relatively small number of words.