RELAX, WE HAVE A plan.
Before we even begin, we'll talk -- or you'll talk. I'll listen.
The goal is for you to present your authentic, three-dimensional, unvarnished self in a way that college admissions people can understand, appreciate, respect and perhaps even love.
Before you can do that, you need to see yourself clearly, and honestly. The things you care about the most are the things you will write about the best. First, I'll help you get there with some exercises developed by the best minds in the business (and me too).
Then, on to the writing.
My process is based on a few steps that I have used in my own writing to break the hypnotic inertia of the blank page:
Step 1: Re-FRAME THE TASK
Visualization helps reduce stress and build confidence. We naturally think in images before we find words for them. All stories start that way, often unconsciously. We'll do it deliberately, using description and detail to focus your thinking before you write a word.
Step 2: BUILD THE FORM OF THE STORY
I'll show you how story form can seize the reader's attention and hold it. We'll use structure as a base on which to build creativity and confidence. Your ideas will gain strength and impact once you know how to organize them.
Step 3: FINGERPAINTING WITH WORDS
Ann Lamott calls them "sh*tty first drafts." All good writers use them to free up their voice and silence their inner editor. Think of it as sketching a rough storyboard with words, letting your thoughts flow without judgment or interference.
Step 4: WRITING. AND REWRITING.
In the previous step, you got something on the page. You might not even think it qualifies as a first draft. But it does. Nothing good is ever written in the first round -- so we won't even try. It's in the rewriting that you will bring your words and images into sharp focus.
Step 5: GET FEEDBACK.
After you've polished it (again) and I've reviewed it (again), you'll share it with your counselors, family, maybe even friends... But before you do, you will decide what is sacred.
Opinions matter, but you matter more. Protect that.
Once you decide on the value of the feedback, rewrite again.
Using this process, you will produce effective essays for college applications, scholarship entries, or even day-to-day school assignments.
It is my hope that these lessons will also help you throughout the rest of your life as a writer, and as a person with a unique voice in this world.
We'll work through a series of exercises to help you zero in on your best essay topics.
Before you write, you'll tell your story out loud. Hearing it helps you decide if it works.
Good writing never happens on the first try. We'll hone your prose until it shines.
Weekly FaceTime calls keep you on track, and greatly reduce your deadline stress later on.