How To Write A Personal Essay: Avoid Big Issues
Writing a personal essay is kind of like writing a glorified journal entry. Read over the instructions from your teacher first to make sure you know exactly what she wants in this assignment. Then, you can start by just unloading onto paper or into a computer word processor your thoughts about events in your life. Don’t worry about format, spelling and grammar, or any order to it. Just get out everything you can remember, and write how you felt at the time; what people were involved, how it changed you, and other details.
Once you have those notes down, it’s time to organize and use them. Start by putting everything into chronological order. You can, of course, mention things out of order in your essay if you have good reason to and it adds to the experience of the story, but for now put them in order so that you don’t forget any part of it. Here’s what you should do next:
- Start taking each moment or scene and expand on it. Write more detail about every time period and place that’s involved. Once you flesh out your memories, you can transition things more smoothly and start to see a fully formed story.
- After doing that, it’s time to consult your teacher’s instructions again. What does she want from this essay – is it mainly for telling an anecdote, or does your teacher want to see specific literary devices used, or are you supposed to present an argument and a point from this experience?
- If you think you have everything required for the assignment done, now you can put aside your first draft for a while and work on something else. The reason you should do this is to get some distance from your writing, which will give you fresh eyes to look at it again next time.
When it’s time to start editing, avoiding big issues with your story will be important. Read through and search for spelling and grammar errors, factual mistakes, parts where your memory was a little fuzzy, or controversial ideas, and check each one: do you really need that in your essay to make it work, or can you do without? A lot of times, there are extra details that are not necessary to enjoy and understand the memory that can be left out.