How to Write a Personal Essay
Some ideas are well organized in our mind but the moment we start writing, everything falls apart. How do we put on paper those experience that remain vividly clear in our minds? How do we make them impact others as they did us? Personal essays are a perfect way to describe the life-changing events that happened to us. These essays can be written for academic reasons; college application, for instance. Authors can also write them to act as a lesson or motivation to others.
What is a personal essay?
As the name suggests, a personal essay is an accord of an individual’s experiences. The writer uses first-person narration to highlight an occurrence and the lesson learned. The formality of this piece of writing depends on the purpose of the writer. A perfect personal essay should create a connection between the reader and the writer. It should motivate the audience to change or inspire towards getting somewhere. Each writer has a different experience that touched them the most. Therefore, people can include distinct ideas in these types of essays. Unfortunately, it can prove challenging to narrate your experiences in a way that someone else feels them too. Embracing the right tactics can bring you closer to writing a flawless personal essay.
Choose an appropriate topic
Your topic does not necessarily have to be complex to make a great essay. Even the most common experiences can be narrated in a unique way to bring out a different touch. Therefore, work with a topic you are most comfortable and in which you have adequate experience. By focusing on an area that speaks your deepest truths or fears, you can easily engage the reader. In this type of essay, you can get emotional since these are your personal experiences you are describing
Come up with an outline
Random thoughts might run through your mind but you must organize them systematically. An outline will help you draft all the ideas you would like to write about and choose the order. If you dive into writing without an outline, you will find yourself moving back and forth every time a new idea comes up. The outline will help you to decide how to begin your essay. It will also help you to work with the most relevant points throughout your essay.
Structure your essay
Essays are known to follow a defined structure; the personal essay is no different. You must identify how your piece will flow from the word go. Therefore, it is crucial to follow the five-paragraph structure. However, your essay can be shorter or longer depending on the requirements.
- Use a compelling introduction
In most instances, how you begin your essay determines whether the reader will continue reading. Therefore, you should take your time to craft a catchy introduction. Avoid using common quotes, jokes or techniques. The first paragraph introduces your topic and determines whether it is something that will interest the reader. Using a perfect and relevant hook will create an urge in the reader to know what happened to you. You are the best person to tell your story; make it count.
- The body
Since you have succeeded in luring the audience to continue reading, the body adds flavor to your work. You now have the task to express yourself in the deepest way possible and leave an impression in the reader. If yours was an awful experience, let the reader never want to be in your shoes. If it was a positive experience, describe it in a manner that makes your story passable to generations. The body should consist of an average of three paragraphs that systematically relay your experiences.
Ensure that you do not just make a narration but cite the lessons learned. The story you tell should, in all ways, relate to the topic you had introduced earlier. The narration must indulge all the five senses of the reader by showing, not merely telling. If you are talking about pain, do not write “I felt unbearable pain”. Let the reader’s mind visualize the pain in what seems a realistic experience to them. Consider “The whip that my father used to beat me left black stripes on my back. Every time I turned on my bed, my back felt like someone was placing a hot piece of metal. The wounds could peel and before the flesh closed, I would get yet another beating”
- Make a mind-blowing conclusion
What would be the use of telling your story if it leaves no impact on the reader? It would be boring to repeat a summary of the event that you have already narrated. In this paragraph, let your audience see how this experience molded you. Are there things that you do in the present day that derive inspiration from the story you have told? Let your reader relate to your topic and be impressed by the turn of events.
Mistakes to avoid when writing a personal essay
Some habits play a huge role in deterring you from writing an engrossing personal essay. By avoiding them, you can improve the overall quality of your piece of writing.
- Boring or unfamiliar topics
A personal essay is not one that you get to the internet or library and research about. It is more of what has inspired you from your own experiences. Therefore, if you choose a topic that does not excite you, your entire essay will be a bore.
- Unstructured work
Telling your story requires that there is a natural flow. Therefore, failure to organize your thoughts will leave the reader in a confused state. The best way to arrange your ideas is to first focus on coming up with an outline.
- No lesson
Your essay is pointless if it does not teach a lesson that people can relate to. Therefore, choose experiences that have a positive impact on life
- Poor language use
Irrespective of how informal your essay is, it loses meaning if there is too much slang. The quotes and jokes you use should also directly relate to the message you are passing.