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How to Write a Personal Essay

November 15, 2017 Types of essays
How to Write a Personal Essay

Personal Essay Definition

A well written personal essay can inspire and galvanize readers to act (for example to change something in their lives). It can be defined as a nonfiction narrative story in which author shares personal experiences, incidents, insightful information or lessons learned from various life situations. In order to write a powerful personal essay, the first step is to understand the structure. Then, it will be necessary to decide on a topic for your personal essay, and after it, you will be ready to write your paper.

Personal Narrative Essay

Writing a personal narrative essay is an easy way to share your (writer’s) personal experience or a story from your life. Writing a good paper will require you to focus on many vivid details and look at them from another angle. You will need to determine key points and pay a lot of attention on the information you want to present.

The first line should let the audience know what you will be talking about and your own point of view on the subject. In the body paragraphs, it would be necessary to give the reader a full idea of what happened (personal experience, a certain event, etc.) and how you feel about it. Your story can be told chronologically, or you can just group the facts by importance. In the end, you will need to wrap everything up and present the main idea of your story, whether it is a lesson that you’ve learned, the impact from a certain experience, etc.

Important Steps To Take

The writing process consists of six steps, follow them in a proper order to learn how to write a personal essay.

Choosing A Topic

If you have got a lot of interesting stories to tell, your personal essay can still be interesting and engaging for your reader. Put in a little extra effort and dig deeper to find a unique or interesting experience or an unusual moment in your life. Looking at an experience from another angle can turn into a deep and purposeful subject matter for your essay.

Write about a meaningful moment

In this type of writing, try to explore a unique experience that created a sense of conflict in your life. Explore how and why you were confused, annoyed, or hurt by the experience. Imagine your piece of paper as a place where you can freely express your emotions and discuss significant moments and reflect their impact on your life.

Write about specific emotions that arouse unusual feelings

You may also talk about a certain event in your life that left a durable impression on you. Usually, this type of essay acts as a reflection on an event that took place in your life and shifted it in some way. Dive deeper into your mind and find an event that is unique and personal to you. The weirder the event, the more likely the essay will be engaging to read.

Think of a person in your life that you have difficulty with

It’s ok to talk about a difficult relationship with a person in your life. Think about somebody you feel estranged from or someone who offended you. You may also choose a person that you have always had a difficult or problematic relationship with.


  • "One small step that helped me skyrocket in my career!"
  • "Why controlling urges teaches you master self-control."
  • "People only learn from their own mistakes."
  • "Life is not a one-dimensional path: it is curvier than a snake!"
  • "What I learned about concurring my fears."

If you have not noticed, each of these titles carries an interesting vibe with it. The names grab your attention, but you can only truly know what they are about when you start reading them. That is the secret to a provocative title!

Some other topics you might consider interesting:

  • When your life changed forever
  • How you overcame a fear
  • Why you will succeed
  • A moment when you had to make a difficult choice
  • An event that changed your life
  • A moment when you should have made a better choice
  • A disappointment you've experienced
  • A proud moment when you did the right thing
  • Your proudest moment
  • If you could change one thing about yourself
  • Most terrifying thing you've witnessed
  • An accident that changed everything
  • A near death experience

Personal Essay Format

Like most of the essays, it should be written in five-paragraphs. Start with an introductory paragraph. It gives your reader a clear understanding of what the story will be about, catch their attention and motivate them to read the rest of the paper. Moreover, it should include a thesis statement and all the points you would like to discuss; it’s crucially important for each point to support the thesis.

After creating an introduction, you must then formulate three body paragraphs that support your thesis statement. Each new point should contain its own body paragraph. Don’t forget to make transitions from one paragraph to another to make sure that everything flows smoothly.

In the end, it will be important to wrap everything up and give your audience a sense of completeness. Restate your thesis, summarize the main points that you have stated in body paragraphs and leave your reader with a certain emotion, depending on the subject of your paper.

Building An Outline


Start your paper with a statement about your story, while at the same time catching the reader’s attention (hook sentence). It may be a suitable quotation, definition, fact or question. Don’t leave your readers in the dark. Explain important things:

  • Who are the major characters?
  • When and where is it taking place?
  • What kind of story is it?

Read more about how to write a great INTRODUCTION

Your introduction should also have a narrative thesis. It must be written in one concise sentence that will bring the reader to the starting point of your essay.

Learn how to write a killing THESIS


It should include supporting evidence for your narrative thesis. Usually, it is made in the form of your experiences and your reflections on your experiences. You should also note the passage of time in your body sections, so make sure that the reader is aware of when and how certain events take place.


Simply, it should include a conclusion of the events and experiences discussed in the essay. You should also come to a moral of the story. It is a moment where you show what you have learned from your experiences or how your experiences changed your life.
Take our piece of advice and write your personal essay in 5 paragraphs. One for the introduction, two-three paragraphs for the body section and one for the conclusion. But you do not need to be limited to five paragraphs as long as you have all three sections.

Follow the link to learn more about How To Create A Winning Outline

Writing Process

how to write a personal essay

So now let’s discuss how to write a personal essay. We are going to make it in step by step format, so just follow us and don’t skip anything.

Start with engaging opening sentence

Open your essay with an introductory section that will be engaging and interesting for your reader. In the opening section, introduce the key characters of the essay as well as the central theme or themes. It should also present the central question of the essay.

Write from your unique point of view

You are free to write from your point of view or in your own unique style. In contrast to other types of essay, writing from your perspective or in your unique manner is welcomed.

Take the characters into account

Be sure to describe your characters from all angles. Even though it is your real life experiences, you should still consider storytelling elements like the plot and characters. Using these elements in your writing will keep your reader engaged and help your essay flow smoothly.

Shed light on a deep truth

Discuss your background experience with honesty and curiosity. Don’t be afraid to uncover a hidden truth or a truth you did not know was there at the time. Expose a thing that is uncomfortable or difficult for you to discuss. No matter who will read your essay. Whether it will be a teacher or somebody else, they will definitely appreciate your honesty and strive to share your experience.

Take One: Action

After you have made all previous steps, it’s time to write a rough draft. Writing a rough draft gives you the opportunity to get some new ideas about what you're writing. Moreover, it’s a great place to polish your essay up and correct small grammar, spelling and other types of mistakes. Get a second pair of eyes: No one can rate your writing as well as a neutral party. As soon as you have checked everything, you can start to write the final paper.

Final Action

Before submitting your personal essay, double check everything once again and make sure to present the central theme. After it, go through it and proofread your entire essay. It’s really annoying to read an essay full of grammatical mistakes. You can ask your classmate for help, so by that way, you will save each other. Just don't forget to meet the deadline and you're officially finished!

Related: Stop struggling. Get professional help NOW!


Below you can find some examples of a personal essay:

Personal Essay Example

Personal Essay Example

Personal Essay Example

Personal Essay Example

Personal Essay Example

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

As a writer, I love writing personal stories with different perspectives and approaches as well as unique styles. There are a few tips I can give you for writing these personal pieces of work. My first and foremost tip is that you must use sensory detail and vivid description. My second tip for you is to combine personal experience with universal experiences. This will help you develop a story that is relatable and deep. Another tip that I have for you is that you find your voice and use it; if you’re original in your writing, you will be more memorable to your reader. Another tip is to not be general while you write. When you create a story, you wanna be as specific as possible in your themes and descriptions. Write about something that has meaning to you, but narrow it down to something concrete. My last and probably most important tip is to have fun while writing! Experiment with metaphors and words! Add surprises to your writing. This type of essay is supposed to be fun to write.

Writer Bonnie Lawson, online essay writer from EssayPro

Read next: How Your Journaling Skills Can Help To Craft Your Next Personal Essay

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