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How to Write a Personal Essay: Your Life Lessons

Aug 05, 2018

Each of us has some exciting story to tell our friends, or particular experience to share with others. Also sometimes we feel the need to express some of our impressions or ideas, surprise the audience or share something really personal. And this is what is exactly meant by writing a personal essay. Many students are faced with this academic assignment but often don't even realize what kind of paper it is and what is its feature or purpose. Although, in fact, there is nothing challenging in dealing with this task. How to write a personal essay successfully? This question is quite common among students, and the answer to it is quite simple - you should study the basics of this essay, and after that, you will understand that this writing is a real piece of cake.

What is a personal essay: General purposes

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you are asked to give a personal essay definition? Most likely, you will think about an essay that will contain some personal information. And you won't go wrong! The central purpose of this essay is to tell and describe your personal feelings, ideas or experiences that can be useful or thought-provoking for your audience. It is not an autobiographical novel, but the description of a specific episode you have experienced and that taught you something or made you think about certain things. Let's summarize what can be a good foundation for an excellent personal essay:

  • your response to events happening around (from news, articles, blogs);
  • a significant episode of your life (not only childhood);
  • description of the person or relationship that influenced your life;
  • a visit to a specific place that became meaningful to you;

Of course, it is not enough to have a clear and precise explanation of what is a personal essay. Your main task is to fill your essay with pertinent facts and thoughts that will attract the attention of the audience, be exciting and informative enough. That is why you should pay special attention to the structure of the personal essay, and also fill each of its component parts thoughtfully. We'll talk about the structure of your future essay in more detail a bit later, and now we will answer the question that you might ask since the personal essay is quite demanding concerning its content. How long should a personal essay be? The length of your writing may vary depending on whether you are a high school, college or university student. However, the total length of the work can vary from 200 to 650 words. Therefore, be sure to clarify all the necessary requirements with your professor before you start writing an essay.

Let's move from a more general to a more detailed examination of a personal essay, and the first thing we'll start with is an outline.

Personal essay outline: Core of Your Writing

If we talk about outline as the general structure of your essay, it will contain an introduction, the body part, and conclusions that are familiar to every student. An outline can also be an obligatory part of any academic paper, including essays, and is prepared separately from the text itself. A personal essay outline that is made up just before starting working on the paper itself will assist you with identifying the most important points in your work, organize the paragraphs coherently and stick to one main idea that you are going to highlight. All these steps are necessary for you to be confident that your paper meets the basic requirements of a personal essay format, as well as in order for you to get a completed, logical and holistic writing, and not a set of different paragraphs that seem to be taken out of context.

Well, now be ready to dive metaphorically in the personal essay world and explore in step by step.

How to start a personal essay: Get Off to a Good Start

An appropriate start is a guarantee of success in any undertaking, as well as in writing an essay. Let's think logically. You are unlikely to force yourself to read a book that didn't interest you from the first pages, but prefer to devote your time to something of greater importance instead, let it be just reading a more interesting and informative blog article on the Internet. For your personal essay not to be postponed until better times, you should remember the main requirements of the introduction part and ways to turn it into a real bait for your audience. Since the personal essay is a description of certain aspects of your life, you need to make it so that the reader is interested in knowing more about your original point of view, thoughts about the certain issue, or learning something from your experience. Whatever is going to be described in the body part of your paper, it should be a logical continuation of your introductory part. That is, your introduction should be a description or foreword of an event, experience or specific thoughts. So, draw the attention of the audience! Here are some tips on what personal essay introduction you should avoid:

  • In this essay, I will tell you about my visit to the circus. This introduction looks very dry and tired. It is not necessary to state the fact - this approach may seem trivial and annoying to the reader. Think about how to attract the audience, even if the plot of your essay is widespread.
  • Now you will learn about the movie/book/etc., which will change your life. This essay is called personal because it tells about the issues from your unique point of view. Of course, your words can influence the reader's opinion, but there is no absolute guarantee for this. Remember that everything is subjective and try not to use an instructive manner of speech.
  • Yesterday's quarrel with my best friend taught me a lot. It is difficult to even call such a raw introduction an introduction itself. Although you have provided the reader with the main idea of what will be discussed in your personal essay, it doesn't in any way induce the reader to know what exactly happened, and doesn't provoke any thoughts.

There is one useful introduction tip that can be implemented effectively. Remember some TV series that you recently watched. How often did one episode end up so that you got restless and continuously asked yourself "Oh my God, what will happen next?". Now imagine that you are the director of such a series. What would you do to improve the rating of your show and excite the audience?

Personal essay body part: Provide exciting details

When you are about to write a body part for your personal essay, one of the most common questions you may be faced with is how to write about just one thing from your life (whether it is an event, person, visit, memory, etc.) and follow the at-least-three-paragraphs rule. For essay body part to be exciting and enjoyable for the majority of readers and content the minimum of redundant information and "empty" sentences, all you need to do is to be open-minded and fill your essay with life. To make your essay memorable you can use metaphorical thinking and other stylistic devices. Remember that if you are sincere, your personal essay is guaranteed to be really amazing, because you will undoubtedly make an effort to achieve the best result. But, what to write about in three paragraphs? Here are a few ideas from which you can move forward from while writing your essay body part:

  • describe in detail your feelings and thoughts that were provoked by a certain event/ act/person;
  • use the famous figure's quotation that would be related to the topic of your essay;
  • draw a parallel between the events of your life with the plot of the film or book;
  • compare what your life was before and after what you describe in the essay;

Don't tell but show: use various images and descriptions to interest your audience and make it impressed. Keep in mind the keyword "personal." Don't present someone else's thoughts as your own, and if you use any references, always indicate the source.

How to end a personal essay and impress everyone

When you prepare a conclusion, it's not enough just to say "And that's what happened" and make a point. Your personal essay conclusion is a summary of your own reflection on certain events in life. How did it change you? What are you going to do after? It's important that in the final part of your essay you focus not only on yourself but the readers, in particular. Your primary task is to influence the audience with thought-provoking ideas and conclusions. Hook your reader, and no one will remain indifferent! Make your audience feel what you felt and see the situation through your eyes - this is the main purpose of the last part of your writing.

Personal essay topic ideas worth sharing

The topic of the personal essay is your foundation, which must be reliable, well-grounded and attractive to your readers. Since this essay is personal, it is important to choose a topic that is really important to you, and which is close to your audience. Think about those aspects or problems that your friends would like to talk about or the advice they would like to receive. How your experience, feelings or thoughts will be useful to share with others. Perhaps a particular topic from following personal essay topics list will attract your attention and become the basis of an ideal essay?

  1. The moment you entered an adult world
  2. A historical sight you would like to visit
  3. Experience with a dilemma
  4. The time you were a bearer of bad news
  5. Your secret place in which you like to return
  6. How did you find your "comfort zone"?
  7. An event that made you closer to your relatives
  8. Dealing with the biggest challenge of your life
  9. A person who changed your life
  10. Your last visit to the zoo or circus
  11. The moment you felt braver than ever
  12. A thing you regret the most
  13. The person you would like to send a letter to
  14. Your last argument with a close friend
  15. A character with whom you have a lot in common
  16. A time in history you would like to travel to
  17. Your favorite color and what does it mean for you
  18. The one time you betrayed someone's trust
  19. The time when someone fell short of your expectations
  20. The most memorable journey of your life

We don't even doubt that using our pieces of professional advice and tips, you will succeed with writing a personal essay as easily as one two three. Study all the recommendations attentively and provide yourself with a refined paper that will surprise anyone who reads it.

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