Home /  Blog /  How to Write a Personal Essay: Fundamentals With Expert Tips

How to Write a Personal Essay: Fundamentals With Expert Tips

Have you ever wanted to share an emotion or a life experience on paper but didn’t know where to start? A personal essay is an excellent way to express yourself and connect with readers. This guide from the experts of our professional essay service will walk you through the steps to writing a personal essay, from selecting a topic to refining the final draft. Prepare to embark on a journey that will enhance your writing skills while allowing for insightful self-reflection.

What is a personal essay?

A personal essay is a creative nonfiction work in which the author shares a significant life lesson. A personal essay, as opposed to a research or descriptive essay, focuses on the writer’s personality, outlook, motivations and experiences, making it the perfect medium for showcasing who you are beyond statistics and percentages in your applications. In fact, many personal essays are submitted as part of the job, school, scholarship or award application process, making this form of writing an essential tool for everyone, regardless of their age or educational background.

Now that you know the personal essay meaning, let’s move on to its structure and other important aspects.

Personal essay structure and tone

An introduction, a few body paragraphs and a conclusion make up the traditional structure of a personal essay. If you want your paper to stand out, you must create a specific atmosphere that lends insight into your personality and write in a conversational tone that engages the reader.

Whether your essay is about a past experience or a current event, you must incorporate successful storytelling techniques and vivid descriptions to grab the reader’s attention and keep them hooked throughout the essay.

Choosing a good topic

When choosing a topic for your personal essay, it is essential to consider your audience, their interests, values and beliefs. Remember, you can create a more relatable and engaging narrative by customising your essay to your readers.

For college essays, emphasise attributes like perseverance, openness, enthusiasm, original perspectives and the capacity to inspire others. Keep in mind that admissions officers want to know what you will contribute to their community and how you can raise the profile of their institution.

Also, make sure to avoid overused topics. Although writing about a sporting triumph or a moment that changed your life may be tempting, such topics will make your essay seem unoriginal and even boring. Instead, concentrate on specific aspects of your story. Review, evaluate and analyse events, ideas and emotions from a different perspective to gain insight. Focus on moments or experiences that significantly impacted your life and have taught you valuable lessons.

Ideas for a personal essay for college applications:

  • Tell how you have matured over the past 5-6 years and what lessons have you learned.
  • Think about what gets you excited, and put your passion into words.
  • Tell how you faced the challenge and moved forward from it.
  • Talk about something you love doing and why.
  • Talk about what you did and why you are proud of it.
  • Tell about a relative or friend who taught you a life lesson.

Remember, you can create a personal essay that stands out and captivates your readers only by choosing a unique personal topic and tailoring it to the audience.

How to write a good personal essay?

In the sections that follow, you will find out how to craft each part of your personal essay so that the story flows well and keeps the reader engaged, so read on.

Here’s how to start a personal essay

Your personal essay’s opening sentence should draw the reader in and set the tone of the entire narrative. Start your introductory paragraph with a hook sentence encouraging the reader to keep reading. This can be anything from a quotation, observation or an evocative description to an anecdote. Here’s a good example:

“I underwent, during the summer that I became fourteen, a prolonged religious crisis.”
—James Baldwin, “Letter from a Region in My Mind”

Include a concise thesis statement that provides a brief overview of the main ideas of your essay and sets the direction of the narrative. Also, make sure your personal essay introduction is brief (up to two paragraphs long), clear and focused on your central point.

Your first line should not only catch the reader’s attention but also give them a taste of your unique story. This will establish the tone for the rest of your personal essay and leave your readers with a memorable impression.

Developing strong body paragraphs

The personal essay’s body usually contains the most information and is typically two to three paragraphs long. These paragraphs should elaborate on your experiences and how they have affected you through time and provide supporting evidence of the lesson or moral. Each new point must have its body paragraph, ensuring that your essay follows a clear and logical structure. Make sure to present information in chronological order and use transitions to maintain an uninterrupted narrative flow and guide the reader through your story.

In the body paragraphs, you can add sensory details and vivid imagery to help the reader visualise and comprehend your story’s characters. Additionally, consider using personal anecdotes to support your arguments or offer an original point. This will help readers to find your personal essay more exciting and memorable.

Here’s how to conclude a personal essay

Your conclusion is the very last opportunity to leave a long-lasting impression on the reader, so use it to the fullest. In this section of your essay, try to:

  • Repeat your thesis
  • Offer a summary of your personal essay’s main points
  • Provide a broader context for your narrative
  • Leave your reader with a specific lesson or emotion

When writing a personal essay conclusion, ensure it reinforces the central point of your essay and connects it to the thesis statement in not more than two paragraphs. Try not to share new information, focus on your message and end your essay with a sentence summarising the emotion or lesson. This will give your personal essay a sense of completion and finality, making it a truly impactful read.

Personal essay tips from top experts in the field

Now that you have a solid structure for your essay, it is high time to bring it to life by demonstrating your own voice. The tips below will help to strengthen your personal essay, eliminate errors and improve clarity, so follow them and avoid headaches!

Tip #1: Make preparations

Ask yourself questions to figure out how your story relates to the goals for writing it. Create a list of the points you wish to make so you can put together an essay that makes your story engaging and relative.

Tip #2: Get organised

An outline is an excellent way to arrange your thoughts and ideas. Outlines can help you stay on track and avoid covering too many ideas, ensuring your primary points are not lost.

Here’s an example of how to write a personal essay outline:

Introductory paragraph(s)

  • Opening sentence
  • Main points of your essay
  • Primary message

Body paragraph one

  • Beginning of your story
  • Your attitude and emotions toward the event

Body paragraph two

  • Details of the story presented in chronological order
  • Answers to how, what, where and why questions

Body paragraph three

  • Description of the story’s ending
  • Your feelings and attitude toward the event

Concluding paragraph(s)

  • Restate the key points of your story
  • Identify the moral or lesson learned

Tip #3: Use descriptive language

Descriptive language is essential for capturing the reader’s attention and bringing your essay to life. It entails employing words, dialogue, vivid descriptions and sensory aspects throughout the essay to create a mental image in the reader’s mind, making them feel as if they are genuinely experiencing the story.

Similes, personification and metaphors are all forms of descriptive language that you can also use to enhance any essay, including the importance of personal development essay.

Tip #4: Showcase your unique voice

Embracing your writing style and voice is critical for presenting your unique perspective and authentic experiences in the essay. Voice elements include:

  • Selecting the right words
  • Tone
  • Sentence structure
  • Punctuation

Keep in mind that you can effectively showcase your personality only by utilising language that best conveys your personality and the mood you wish to create.

Tip #5: Use an active voice and write conversationally

In your writing, use action verbs and avoid passive voice by ensuring that the subject accomplishes the verb’s action. Always be direct and straight to the point.

Most importantly, write as if you were chatting with a friend, but avoid slang and language that other generations may not understand.

Tip #6: Polish your work to perfection and ask friends for feedback

As soon as you’ve written your essay, the last step is to create a refined final product that captivates your readers. This involves proofreading the personal essay and making sure it is free of punctuation, grammar and clarity issues.

Modern apps and tools like Grammarly can also help spot errors in spelling, passive voice, clarity, grammar and tone. So, don’t hesitate to use them to achieve maximum clarity and readability. Reading your essay aloud to a friend might also help identify errors and points that need additional clarification.

Bottom line

In this article, we’ve explored what’s a personal essay, explained how to structure a personal essay and uncovered some valuable tips to guide you along the way. From choosing a good topic to crafting an engaging copy, we hope you have learned the importance of sharing emotions and personal experiences for effectively conveying your message and leaving a lasting impression on your readers.

In case you need any help fine-tuning your paper or creating an entire copy from scratch, you can always buy essay UK from our experienced personal essay writers. They are at your service 24/7!


Sign up today & get 10% OFF

...along with exclusive access to closed promotions, holiday offers, giveaways, and other specials you’ll love.