Personal Essay: Writing about One’s Experiences and Thoughts

Image of happy caucasian woman 20s smiling while using laptop and drinking coffee in cafe.

A good personal essay has to reflect the individual experiences of the writer. It also has to illustrate his or her views on a specific problem or question.

You can write such a paper in high school or in college, and the ability to write such papers can always come in handy. There are several strategies that will help you cope with this assignment.

How to Engage the Reader

One of the most important tasks of a student is to attract the reader’s attention. You can do this in several ways:

  1. First, students can ask a rhetorical or controversial question that prompts the reader to take a closer look at a topic or question.
  2. Secondly, in personal essays, students can use a quotation that fits the topic they want to discuss.
  3. Humor is also an excellent strategy for catching the reader’s interest. Yet, you should make sure that it doesn’t distract the person’s attention from the main point of your paper.

Things that You Need to Avoid

If you are working on a personal essay, you should avoid several things which can reduce the quality of such a paper:

  1. Colloquial phrases and expressions. Certainly, in this case you will need to use a less formal language, but it’s not a very good idea to include words like gonna, or wanna in this paper.
  2. There is no need to start a sentence with a phrase like, “You know “. It sounds too informal, and implies that you are on very friendly terms with the reader.
  3. You shouldn’t make your paragraphs or sentences too longs. Admittedly, personal essay writing has to be based on the individual style of the person. It leaves room for creativity, but you shouldn’t try to imitate Proust or Joyce. Such imitation is unlikely to produce good results.
  4. It is also necessary to avoid terms that the reader might not know very well.

What You Can Write About

If you have to work on such a paper, you can choose from plenty of topics. Here are some examples:

  1. A person who profoundly influenced you;
  2. A situation that made a very strong impression on you;
  3. A specific question or social problem that is relevant to your life;
  4. A certain hypothetical situation. For example, professors often ask students to write their papers on a question like, “What would you do if you didn’t have to earn a living?”.

On the whole, essays on personal questions or issues can be very diverse. Yet, you should try to choose something familiar and understandable to the reader. Hopefully, this assignment won’t be of any difficulty to you.