Writing isn’t as scary as most people think; it’s really
just thinking on paper and then going back to organize and refine
your ideas and language. It’s not easy, but you can do it if you
put in the time and effort.
Writing a personal essay is demanding. You should plan
on spending more time on this essay than you spent on the last English
paper you wrote. In a perfect world, you would have spent the summer
between your junior and senior years reading personal essays by
famous authors, reflecting on the meaning of life, checking out
essay questions on college Web sites, and maybe even working on
a rough draft.
It’s Never Too Early to Start
If you’re a junior and are using this planner, congratulate
yourself for thinking ahead! The summer is a good time to start
brainstorming and reflecting on your experiences and your qualities.
In early July, most colleges will post their applications online
so you can see what questions they ask; it gives you an opportunity
to start focusing on specifics. You might want to keep the application questions
with you along with a notebook to jot down ideas.
While you’re brainstorming, don’t think too much about
the writing. While you’re writing the first draft, don’t look ahead
to see how much more you have to do. Don’t beat yourself up for
not being further along in the process. Each step is necessary—take
them one at a time, and you will finish.
Asking for Help
When you are writing about yourself, getting another perspective
is especially important. Ask a friend, relative, or teacher to kick
around some ideas with you and to read your first draft. Ask them
While your essay is in someone else’s hands, avoid working
on it or obsessing over it. The mind works in incredible ways; even
when you’re not writing, you’re still thinking. Take a break! It’ll only
make the revision process easier.