At some point in your academic career, you’ll be asked to write a personal essay, which can be among the simplest writing assignments to tackle.
Traits and Peculiarities
The personal essay is usually not a formal piece, so you have a lot of leeway (usually, depending on the assignment’s parameters) when it comes to topics. It might be a personal narrative where you rely on a past experience or incident in your life that was meaningful or that taught you some sort of lesson. It may also be an essay expressing your opinion on a particular issue that you are passionate about. Coming up with a topic that interests you makes the writing process more expedient and allows your words to flow from pen to paper more quickly.
In a personal narrative, you tell your story with dialogue; there’s usually a setting, a plot, and maybe even a conflict. Personal narratives use lots of imagery and characterization, and it is typically written using first-person language. The personal narrative doesn’t need to be objective; you use the essay to express your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings, being honest with your reader and using self-disclosure to tell your story.
In a personal opinion piece, you address a topic of interest; it may center around a social or environmental problem, political agenda, social injustice, or related topics. In this essay type, you state a problem, provide a solution to the problem, and then conclude with an important point or call to action.
Personal Essay Topics and Writing Prompts
Now that we’ve looked at the types of personal essays, you may be better prepared to come up with your own topic. However, if you’re still a bit little lost, feel free to use one of our suggestions – who knows, they could even serve inspiration for a great essay of yours!
- “The Best Day of My Life.” In this personal narrative, you relive a day in your life that you consider to be the best possible day that you’ve experienced to date.
- “My Secret Talent.” In this essay, you discuss something that you consider a talent, but that most people may not know about you if they are not within your close circle.
- “If My Pet Could Talk, the Secrets He’d Tell.” This piece looks at what your dog or cat would have to say about your life if only he could talk.
- “I Needed a Hug.” In this personal narrative, you discuss a traumatic experience that has occurred in your personal life, how you really needed a hug, and the people that helped you through your crisis.
- “If I Could Turn Back Time.” Discuss what you would do if you could flash back into time and relive a moment to achieve a different outcome. Talk about what happened, what you would do differently, and how the end result would differ because you turned back time.
- “A Difficult Decision.” Address a time in life when you had a difficult decision to make. What did you decide? What factors went into the decision? Are you happy you chose the way you did, or in hindsight, would you do things differently?
- “Conquering My Fear.” In this narrative, discuss a fear you have had in the past. How did this fear develop? How did it limit your life? How did you conquer the fear? How can others follow your example?
- “How I Became a Democrat/Republican.” This essay gives you a chance to explain your reasoning beyond your political party selection. Why did you choose to be a Democrat or a Republican? What factors went into your decision?
- “Why I Didn’t Vote/Why I Voted.” In this essay, you address a social problem from a personal perspective. Explain the reasoning behind your decision to vote or not to vote.
These ideas go a long way towards helping you find a topic that you can get behind and really dig into to give it a personal slant. Let your imagination be your guide to come up with a concept that really speaks to you and you’ll find that writing comes naturally.