Writing Personal Essays
A personal essay shares the details of a specific event or time in your life, emphasizing what you have learned from the experience. In this way, a personal essay is part recollection and part reflection.
Whether your purpose in your essays is to narrate, persuade, explain, or describe (or some combination thereof), following the five easy steps can help you get started.
1. Write what you want to write. Yes, I know that you’ve likely gotten this advice before, and with good cause: It really holds true. Choose a topic that really matters to you. Since you’re writing a personal essay, you want to choose something that touches your soul. Otherwise, you’ll likely have trouble mustering the passion you need.
2. Determine your purpose and audience. Your purpose will determine how you write about the topic. For instance, if you write a narrative essay, your purpose is to entertain. As a result, your essay is likely to be light and charming. An expositor)’ essay, in contrast, is designed to explain or instruct. It may still be amusing, but its primary purpose is to teach ‘em.
3. Gather information. You can do this informally by tapping your memories and jotting down notes. Or, you could do some formal research by interviewing people, reading online sources, or checking reference books. Be sure you have the facts you need to make your essay interesting to your readers.
4. Write the personal essay. Decide how many paragraphs your personal essay will have. A brief essay of 550-500 words will usually have an introduction, a body (three-to-five paragraphs), and a conclusion. Then get your ideas down on paper.
5. Revise and edit. Let your personal essay sit to “cool down” a few hours or a few days, if you have the rime. Then reread your essay and decide what to keep and what to change. Don’t be discouraged! It takes time to whip your essay into the form you want. I published the following essay in a local newspaper. It took five drafts until I was satisfied.
Don’t forget to narrow your topic to (it your parameters. For example, if you want to submit a 500-word personal essay to a newspaper, don’t write about all extreme sports; instead, take a small slice of the topic, enough lo cover in detail in the space you have.
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