A few years ago I spoke to a class at Walnut Creek Intermediate about the California Writers Club Young Writers Contest. When I mentioned the essay category, the kids’ eyes glazed over and perhaps one or two of them snored. Then I read one of the essays that won the year before and they jolted awake. It was about a boy making a home run.
“Why, that’s not an essay. That’s a personal narrative,” said a student.
“Is that what you call it?” I asked.
For the past several years, our essay judges had mentioned they were receiving so many academic “teacher-type” assignments, they couldn’t figure out why. Now I got it! We were calling it by the wrong name for kids. Although in the publishing world, adults knew what an essay could be, students were unaware of this.
So send us your personal experiences in this category. Use first person. (“I”) Brainstorm your memories that charge you with passion, emotion, excitement, or joy. It doesn’t have to be a huge experience. Sometimes the small moments in life are the most meaningful.
Need ideas? Flip through your scrapbook, diary/journal, or photo album. Keep an idea book for every day thoughts and anecdotes that may happen to you. With our busy lives these days, we forget about those times that pass us by but may be significant.
Once I confessed our error to the students at Walnut Creek Intermediate, the students relaxed. No teachery essays! YAY! They could write about anything they wanted to write about! They could write about themselves! The pressure was off!
So go to it. And we can’t wait to read them!
Questions? Ask right here.