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One Item and a Story

All it takes is one word to get your story flowing like the smooth river it's meant to be.

I recently guided my English students on their personal statements/essays for college/university. In doing so, I met many who had no idea how to get "personal." Forget the fact that they were about to share it with me, someone who should mind her own business, someone they would rather not share anything too personal with as it's easier to share it with the ghost of an admissions officer than the face they see every day for 180 days of school. It didn't matter that I was the person who, in good faith and in my academic role, was meant to guide my students along, to reach their full writing potentials. A personal statement is...well...personal and therefore, meant to be private, in the hearts of these soon-to-be adults.

That's just what writing is: an embodiment and essence of YOU. It is YOU in the forms of various characters, or maybe, just the one. I was fortunate enough to have convinced my students to trust me. I told them that most likely I'd forget what they wrote, but even if I didn't, I would keep their stories to myself.

It only takes one item to make a story. The conversation went something along the lines of:

Me: So, is there a special place you like to go to? A routine you like to follow? A cherishing memory that has impacted you? A journey that you took, maybe to another country and something you noticed? A club you are a member of or leader of that can show your skills? A challenge you had to overcome and successfully did? A fear that you have that you overcame? A person who had a positive influence on you? An object that means something to you or meant something to you a long time ago?

Student: Well, the other day I found a medical bracelet from when I was a kid and had an operation.

Me: Oh wow, what kind of memories did the bracelet trigger?

Student: Some good ones and bad ones from that time, but I don't know why I kept it.

Me: It must've meant something to you at the time and now that you dug it up, perhaps it's something you can use as inspiration for your personal statement.

She took that bracelet and she wrote the most beautiful story about how she wants to become a doctor.

So you see, it only takes one item to make a story. Think of an item you have or had; what did it mean to you? Create your characters, plot, setting etc....

Or just take a spoon, a broom and a blanket, and see what you can come up with. Write down a list of three completely random objects (or just the first three objects you see in front of you right now) and row your boat down those volatile waves toward the smooth part of the river.

Happy Writing!


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