How to Write a Personal Essay

Essay? Really? You may think the college professor in me caused me to write this, but that’s not the case. I just want you to consider a new perspective about writing and a good place to start is with a topic you know better than anyone else–you!

Here are some ideas to get you thinking (and writing).

  • Consider you’re not writing an essay, which is typically thought of as a theme. Instead, give yourself permission to write your story.
  • Start with “I” because you’ve got something worthwhile to say.
  • Show how the past significantly impacts the now (and future) by digging deeper within yourself than you have before.
  • Enjoy being yourself. Sure, lots of writers quote famous people, but this is your personal essay, and you’ve got plenty of your own wisdom/experience to share.
  • Write what you want. When you get assignments in class to write essays or themes or study papers, you also get restrictions. But this is your personal essay to encourage you to get in touch with you, so write what you want.
  • Observe life. One idea is universal–writers are observers of life. Thus, get out and observe by going for a walk, watching people, seeing and hearing what’s going on around you (both large and small activities).
  • Save notes and things that speak to you so you can journal, create idea boxes to collect your thoughts, then chunk your ideas together for future writing. You never know when the smallest detail can serve as the exact thing you need to make your next story better.
  • Remember to use active verbs when writing about your experiences.
  • Allow the muse to work with you. Writing about yourself and finding ways to connect the past with the anticipated future isn’t easy, so embrace all the help the muse offers.

The most obvious tip is to write. If you continue writing, chances are your writing won’t get worse, only better. Since only you know you so well, embrace writing the personal essay and see where it takes you and your other writing. Happy writing!


2 Responses to How to Write a Personal Essay

  1. Dianne Morr says:

    Hi Sharron,

    I love this post! Thanks for publishing it.


  2. Thanks, Dianne, for your comment. Keep writing!

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