One of the best ways to have a successful personal essay is to know how to write one. Do your research: look through your family and friends for inspiration.
Make an outline: draw up a list of all the main points you want to make about the topic. Write the essay: try and write about one topic for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes each day.
organize your thoughts in order of importance and focus. Don’t write for the internet: most people don’t like reading an essay on a website. Developing the right tone is a key part of the process. Most personal essays are written in a conversational tone.
However, to add authenticity, you can be more formal in some of your writing. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: don’t be afraid to make a mistake and edit and re-edit your work to make sure it’s perfect before you submit it.
Create the ideal story: crafting the perfect personal essay is more about the telling than the telling itself. Write with your audience in mind: your personal essay should be in a manner that appeals to your target audience. Avoid the common mistakes when writing personal essays:
- Don’t confuse the reader: make sure that your essay clearly makes a point.
- Don’t make assumptions: ask yourself, what would I ask my mother if she were here today?
- Don’t over complicate the text: avoid dense writing with lots of words.
- Don’t over dramatize: don’t exaggerate anything.
- Don’t lose the reader: be succinct and direct.
- Avoid themes: avoid using similar themes in your personal essay.
- Avoid clichés: avoid clichés such as “the sky is the limit” or “this is how I know I’m alive.”
- Write short: keep your essay as short as possible.
It’s quite possible to submit personal essays to publications such as The New Yorker or The Atlantic. However, the publication usually requires you to submit a certain number of “sustaining” pieces of writing. This can be a waste of time and resources, as most publications won’t take submissions that don’t have the potential to become a publication.
Instead of trying to meet the criteria, you can try to get noticed by other publications. Try sending letters to magazines or publications you have a connection with, or use platforms such as NextDoor. Write essays with a point of view: many websites for writers have guidelines on how to make your essay clear and engaging. To make your essay clear and interesting, you should try to include as many facts as you can. Create a strong, memorable sentence: your sentence should provide a good, clear example of your personal essay’s core theme.
Extend Your Reach
Every successful essay starts with a strong idea. Developing a compelling idea can take you a long way, and can serve as a launching point for writing.
Take time to develop your idea: don’t write something just for the sake of writing. Write a few drafts of a personal essay, and don’t rush through writing it. The draft you submit should be your best work. List out all the ideas you have, including your idea’s history.
Analyze how you think about your essay and the ideas you have. What inspires you to write it? What is the heart of your essay? Don’t over complicate your personal essay.
Your personal essay is not the perfect work you will ever write, but that’s okay! It’s a starting point for many stories. Write a few drafts, and be patient. Write a few more drafts, and be even more patient. Most people won’t consider your work, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up.
Use your essay as a launching point: keep writing personal essays until your book has a theme and message that people can relate to.
How to Structure a Personal Essay
Let’s take a look at what these basic sections look like in a personal essay:
Introductory paragraph: give the reader an idea of what the essay is about, tell a little about yourself, and explain what your essay is about.
Body paragraphs: list interesting and important facts, show case your style, discuss what makes your essay unique, and tell a quick story.
Conclusion: summarize your essay.
Take care with your opening paragraph. Your opening paragraph should be simple, direct, and funny. Include your viewpoint and tone.
Key points include the following:
- The purpose of your essay
- When do you think your essay will be published
- What’s the first sentence you will write in your personal essay
- Why you want to write your essay
- Description of your essay
- How you will structure your essay
- How you will write your essay
A typical personal essay should be between 1,500 to 3,000 words, but you can write as much or as little as you like. Write the first draft slowly. You don’t want to rush this part. Once you have the first draft done, edit and rework your draft until it is perfect. Try to get at least four drafts for a personal essay.
Don’t rush your draft. One of the most common mistakes is rushing through the first draft. A word count calculator will be very helpful for a personal essay.
Once you’ve finished the first draft, spend at least two days revising it. Many first drafts can be redrafted many times, but that shouldn’t happen. If it looks like you are making many typos, rewrite your essay. If you don’t understand any of the meaning, rewrite it. If you feel like the opening paragraph was short and boring, rewrite it.
Be careful not to get caught in self-deception.
Take your time and think about your essay before you write it. Give yourself space to think about your personal essay before you write it. Resist the temptation to write something quick because you think that will be more easily accepted.
Who Will Read Your Personal Essay?
Before you write a personal essay, you should decide what other people will want to read. Are you writing for a serious audience? A creative audience? A random audience?
- If you are writing a personal essay for a serious audience, what is the tone of your essay? What kind of language will you use?
- If you are writing a personal essay for a creative audience, what kind of language will you use?
- If you are writing a personal essay for a random audience, what will the word count of your essay be?
- A personal essay is an art, and to be successful, you must take a risk. Be daring and try something new. Just be sure to create quality work that is worthwhile.