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Contexts for Writing the Personal Essay

Now try out the tecniques we have been discussing for yourself in the exercises below.  No pressure here; nothing to turn in.  But this practice should prepare you to write a stronger personal essay at the end of this unit. Have fun!

Exercise 1:

Practice truthtelling yourself.  Write for ten minutes on whatever comes to mind. If nothing comes to mind, write about that until something does come into sight. Let your thoughts wander (in writing) until you find something which captivates your interest and then find the truth there. When ten minutes are up you should have filled a notebook-sized page. If the writing comes out dull, or you never find an interesting truth to tell, so be it; misses are part of the writing process.  Take a minute at the end to jot down what you learned about your writing process that might be useful to you as you prepare to write a personal essay.

Exercise 2:

Now try free writing with more purpose. Stay on one subject for fifteen or twenty mintues as the writer did when she said that everyone thought she was being positively intolerable. But if you find that subject takes your mind off to another related subject, let yourself go to that. The one necessity in such shotgunning is that you keep writing freely and quickly. Again, take a minute at the end of this process to jot down what you learned about your writing process from this exercise that might be useful to you as you prepare to write a personal essay.

Exercise 3:

Try using the filmaker's technique for structuring a personal essay.  Visit Bartleby's Familiar Quotations to find an interesting quotation about a subject that interest's you, then structure a personal essay around that quotation to illustrate the quote. How would you shoot the film? What scenes would you include? How would you splice the scenes together? How might close-up and wide-angle shots be used (in film and in writing) to accentuate your points?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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