Personal Essay | Format, Types, Tips and Common Mistakes Avoid While Writing

Personal Essay: A personal essay is a form of writing that basically serves to elaborate and describe important lessons gathered from the life of the person who is writing. The essay describes any event or situation from a first person basis.

The person can channelize his or her experiences and thoughts as in formal essays or it could be channelised into creative non-fiction stories.

Personal essay examples can be of various types which we will look into this article. We will also look into the various types of personal essay format and myriad forms of personal essay topics.

The importance of writing a personal essay is that it increases one’s writing capacity as well as the importance of channelizing one’s daily experiences and life lessons to something that turns out to be creative and inspiring for others also (to some extent).

Personal Essay Format

Personal Essay Format

For any well written essay it must have the three basic things – an introduction, a body paragraph and a conclusion. There is no such restriction of the number of paragraphs that a personal essay should contain, yet the average number of paragraph that ranges in an average personal essay is usually between five to seven.

The introduction

The introduction of any essay is basically the welcoming paragraph of any essay where the author describes about himself or herself and also outlines what the essay actually deals with. It is also the section where the author establishes a connection with the reader.

Usually the introduction contains famous or catchy quotations and statements so as to capture the attention of the essay by the reader. In a nutshell, the introduction serves the personal statement of the author and a glimpse of what would be elaborated in the main body of the personal statement.

The body paragraph

This is the part of the essay from where the author actually makes the reader delve or dive deeper into the essay. Therefore the introduction is a way to condition the reader by the author about the essay so as to make the reader more efficient so as to deal and understand the essay more deeply and look the essay from actual first person point of view by positioning himself or herself as the author.

The body paragraph can be also divided into several paragraphs depending upon the person who has written it. The body also includes main points and personal evidence that supports the thesis statement of the essay.

The conclusion

This basically sums up the entire essay mostly restate the thesis also contains moral of the author’s story or it could contain a epiphany of a deeper truth.

The conclusion could also contain what important things that the reader must learn from the author’s essay, it could also contain any warning for any mistakes done by the author so that it does not gets repeated by the reader in future.

In short the conclusion is also an emotional section of the written work where, before the reader ending reading the essay kind of departs from the author or in other words the author bids farewell to the reader.

Different Types Of Personal Essay Topics

Although writing any personal or narrative essay does not limits itself to any boundaries regarding the topic of essay, in this article we would look some of the most commonly used personal essay topics. These are as follows:

  • A failure you’ve experienced and learnt lessons from it
  • A disappointment you’ve experienced in your college or school
  • A surprising turn of events that changed the course of your life
  • What you would do if you get the power to read people’s mind?
  • What superpower you would choose if god gave it to you?
  • If you could switch lives with someone, who it would be?
  • What would you choose- money or love?
  • Your biggest loss in your work life
  • A time when you felt you did the righteous thing
  • A proud moment when you saved someone from a major crisis
  • An experience that you’ve only with your soul
  • A random first encounter with an amazing stranger
  • Your first handshake with a celebrity
  • A time when you had disappointed someone
  • Your fondest memory from your life
  • The first time when you saw your parent cry
  • The time when you realised you were grown up
  • Your earliest memory of any holiday celebrations in your home
  • Bad choices from where you still regret from
  • A time when you dodged a dangerous situation luckily
  • A person you will continue to think till the end of your life
  • A hard lesson which paid off
  • A visitor you’ll never forget in your life
  • An undecipherable event
  • Your longest trip in Europe
  • An awkward social moment which made you crack under pressure
  • An almost near experience with death
  • Why you’ll never visit to Mongolia
  • The secret which you have not told your parents
  • An emotional moment that meant a lot
  • When you desperately needed a hug
  • The hardest news you’ve had to deliver to your teacher
  • A special morning in Paris
  • Your favourite food
  • Your hiding place
  • A book that kept inspiring your life forever
  • Words that hurt you from somebody
  • When you had the desire to run away to Europe
  • When you had the urge to crawl into a the deepest point of earth
  • Words that prompted hope, yet it did not turned out well
  • When a child taught you an essential lesson
  • Your proudest moment in life
  • If your pet could talk
  • Your favourite time with family during a trip
  • If you could live in New York for one day
  • If you could invent something for the good of humanity
  • The world a thousand years from now
  • If you had lived during the 1900s
  • If you were an owl
  • One thing you would improve at your school immediately
  • Your favourite movie
  • The type of teacher you would like to be
  • If you could be the president of the United States of America
  • Your trip in Paris
  • If you could reside at any place in the world
  • The greatest discovery you made as an archaeologist
  • If you could reform one quality about yourself in your teenage
  • If you were a bird
  • Something you can do like robots
  • Your most unfortunate day in your university
  • Your secret talent that you realised
  • Your untold secret love
  • The most beautiful thing you saw in India
  • The ugliest thing you saw in somebody
  • Something you’ve witnessed that helped you in future
  • An accident in a hospital that changed everything in your life
  • A wrong choice you regret
  • A right choice you are still proud of
  • If you were a food, what it would be?
  • How you’d spend a million dollars, what it would be?
  • If you could start a charity, from where you would start it?
  • Your favourite colour
  • A secret that you chose to reveal publicly
  • Your favourite gift to your best friend
  • A favourite chore you would do away with
  • Your perception on to be a millionaire
  • Something you cannot never resist
  • The bravest moment in your life
  • How have you met your best friend
  • What makes your mother or father or your grandparent special to you
  • Overcoming any phobia
  • Your path to success
  • Why you made a difficult choice
  • A special place you have visited
  • Any place that you try to avoid
  • When a friend has let you down
  • An event that has changed your lifestyle forever
  • A time when you felt depressed
  • An odd experience that didn’t fit well into the given time
  • Words of wisdom that changed your way of thinking
  • A person you hate

Tips For Writing A Personal Essay

To be specific

It is important to be specific while writing the essay because rather than giving general overview of the situation, writing about one’s personal experiences that would make the essay more engaging. Details of real life characters and particular feelings can also be portrayed.

Using one’s own vocabulary

Choosing and using the right words extremely matters while writing a personal. You should use the words that naturally comes to mind while you are writing and do not try to be something that you are actually not.

Your language should fit the topic perfectly and guide readers to interpret your essay in a certain way depending upon the right usage of vocabulary.

Finding ideas and inspirations

Writing a personal essay takes time because a personal essay is the by-product of one’s own feelings and experiences. Therefore before writing the essay, it is very important to research, take ideas and inspirations from any source or suggestions from an experienced person, for example an author or a teacher. Doing this leads to make the essay more creative.

Edit and analyse

One must not keep on writing whatever one may think so. One should analyse and think whatever comes tour mind should be judged by oneself so that the essay should go along with the topic. At the same time it is very important to edit while continuing the writing work of the essay, this enables in avoiding mistakes in future.

Common Mistakes To Avoid While Writing Personal Essay

  • Exaggerating the essay– making one essay exaggerated and not specific makes the essay boring to readers and also the essay looses its importance. Therefore it is good to stick to the actual event and describe it as per its intensity and not exaggerated than what is required.
  • Holding yourself back– if one is afraid and is determined to stay on the safe side and not give the details of the story be it one’s fear, rejection, anxiety, etc then it is wrong to write a personal essay for that person.

Because a personal essay has to stand upon all these elements in order to make that essay personal in true sense so that it can also reflect upon the reader as well. The more of oneself one brings to one’s writing, the better essayist that person will be.

  • Not venting out– the essay must not be written so as to express any controversial rant about someone or something. It is judicious to present the viewpoint more in an indirect way using the right vocabulary and tenses. It is important to challenge the reader to adopt his or her own stand without stating it outright in the essay.
  • Plagiarism– while writing the essay it is important to acknowledge the persons as well the sources from where the information and inspirations are derived upon for the essay. Otherwise the written piece would be regarded as invalid as it has been cheated from someone else.
  • Repetition of the introduction– it is wrong to repeat the same statements of the introduction in one way or the other, rather the introduction should serve interesting precise statements and even interesting questions that would and answered in the main body of the personal essay.
  • Writing an essay which is hard to read– many people make the mistake of writing an essay by creating a complex structure. When teachers ask students to write a topic that will adhere to the style guidelines and instructions, this does not actually mean that the essay should be hard to read for others. Whereas, it implies that the students/writer needs to present the message or the story in a clear way.

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