642 Things to Write About
I'm a sucker for books about writing. I buy every one! A while ago, suffering from a bout of writer's block, I picked up 642 Things to Write About. It has writing exercises that can be used to get you started. Just today I flipped to a random page in the book and saw a few prompts that I thought might inspire a good college essay.
- A family (not your own) on the street where you grew up
- The way you mistreated a friend
- A letter to the editor
Speaking of letters to editors, if you have extra time on your hands, or a free thirty minutes every day, I strongly suggest reading the newspaper. (Blah blah, old advice Juli.) But do not just read the newspaper and the OpEd sections. Make sure to also check out the letters to the editors. Get multiple perspectives and then form your own. Don't skip the comments if you're reading online. It's one very good thing to learn to read the newspaper and digest analysis from well-respected writers. It's another even better thing to read the (oftentimes) well thought out reactions from readers who have strong feelings and opinions. Heck, it's even important to be exposed to the sometimes ignorant and antagonistic views of the public and be able to identify them as such.
And write your own letter to the editor. Participate in the conversation when you feel you can. Practice articulating your thoughts and involving yourself in the debate. Not just for college admissions and the essay, but for everything after.