Tips For Creating Your Personal Essay
Personal essays are pretty much a non-fiction type, but they do have more in common with short stories than with dry academic composition. There’s more to writing one, though. For one thing, the format is different. In a short piece, there’s only so much that you can say in a few paragraphs. That’s because it’s more of a personal experience for the writer. But in a personal essay, there’s plenty of room to explain yourself, so to speak.
So what is a personal essay? It’s basically a sort of personal narrative, told in a single sentence or two. One common model for personal essays is that of the journal entry. The basic structure is something like this: first names, last names, some details about the life, thesis statement, some paragraph on the life (but not too much! ), and then a concluding paragraph.
There are many ways to structure a personal essay, actually. If you’re writing a paper for college, your teacher will be able to help you, if she doesn’t give you specific guidelines. She may even be able to give you sample examples to follow. And of course you can always write one yourself…
How do you write personal essays, then? It differs from short stories in some ways. For one thing, in essays of this sort, you don’t need to tell a lot of facts. Facts are fine, as long as they’re concrete, and as long as they’re consistent with what’s already known about you. You don’t need to draw connections between events in your life and your essay; the only thing you need to do is tell a “what” instead.
If, on the other hand, you’re writing a personal essay for school, your teacher will be able to point out several things that you probably know already, but which you may have glossed over during your school years. She may be able to show you where you went wrong, or how you could’ve said or written something differently. She may also point out what you’re doing right, and how your English class is improving your writing skills. She won’t be giving you advice, but rather, will be telling you how she sees your writing.
If you’ve written a short story, you might want to write a few personal essays instead of short stories. Your college essays for school, of course, will still be based on the research that you did, but they’ll be much more personal. As such, you may choose to start with a personal essay about a time when you had a particularly interesting event in your life. Write about a trip you took with a friend to visit someplace special. Write about how you met your best friend, or how your family adopted a new child. The events in these stories will give you ideas for your personal essay, and this can greatly improve your chances at winning scholarship applications for college.
If you are writing about something meaningful that happened in your life, think about how you might be able to include that information in your personal essay. Consider using examples from your own life: if you were in a wheelchair, you could talk about how your life was changed by using crutches, or how once you had a pet who helped you with everyday tasks, how that pet made you stronger. If you were in a foster home, you could talk about how that environment helped you through difficult times.
You can find lots of examples of personal essays online and in books, and there are even some good personal essay examples that can be printed on booklets and given away as gifts. If you need to buy printed copies, try to find ones that include some of the ideas you’ll be using. Some writers will create a bibliography to go along with their personal statements, while others will simply choose to write about their lives. Whichever way you choose to do it, though, don’t forget to practice!