Personal Writing Essays

You must give the reader your utmost intelligence and understanding.The best way to convince the reader of your sincerity is to reveal your potential for insincerity. Being honest on the page is hard, but if you can do it the reader will recognize and respect it. Keep questioning yourself until you find the limits of your understanding.

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Scott Fitzgerald, William Hazlitt, Edward Hoagland, Michel de Montaigne, V. Naipaul, George Orwell, Richard Rodriguez, David Sedaris, Mark Twain, Gore Vidal, David Foster Wallace. Your personal essay is your one chance to write something that is unapologetically subjective.

The list of essayists above contains some of my favourite essay writers. The earlier you start writing personal essays the more likely it is that you will experiment with the form. It can reward in a way that writing other literature simply cannot offer.

You need to be aware of your prejudices and reveal them to the reader: doing so will help give the essay a conscience.

The reader wants to see your point of view – what you think and why you think it.

The ability to linger on and draw out a point is a highly valuable commodity for the personal essayist.

Write in your own voice, in your own writing style.

Your point of view is shaped by your experiences, your personality, and your writing style.

You are constantly revealing yourself to the reader.

By displaying your individuality, you widen the readers’ view of who you are. Storytelling devices constantly pop up in good essays: descriptions of people, places, incidents, conversations, and conflicts all add up to help shape and communicate the essayist’s seemingly random thoughts into a consumable narrative.

Intimacy is one of the hallmarks of the personal essay.


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