Tell a story : Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real . Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
Be brief : Your statement should be between 350 and 500 words. That's about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.
Name your belief : If you can't name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief, because three minutes is a very short time.
Be positive : Please avoid preaching or editorializing. Tell us what you do believe, not what you don't believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial "we." Make your essay about you; speak in the first person.
Be personal : Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.
I don't believe in superstars, Organic food and foreign cars. I don't believe the price of gold; The certainty of growing old. That right is right and left is wrong, That north and south can't get along. That east is east and west is west. And being first is always best. But I believe in love. I believe in babies. I believe in Mom and Dad. And I believe in you.
Well, I don't believe that heaven waits, For only those who congregate. I like to think of God as love: He's down below, He's up above. He's watching people everywhere. He knows who does and doesn't care. And I'm an ordinary man, Sometimes I wonder who I am. But I believe in love. I believe in music. I believe in magic. And I believe in you. Well, I know with all my certainty, What's going on with you and me, Is a good thing. It's true, I believe in you. I don't believe virginity, Is as common as it used to be. In working days and sleeping nights, That black is black and white is white. That Superman and Robin Hood, Are still alive in Hollywood. That gasoline's in short supply, The rising cost of getting by.
Authentic voice: The writer must create a narrative persona (or stance) that the reader believes authentic, or else the text risks coming off as trite or condescending.
Narrative Coherence: Vivid description, controlled and appropriate pacing, subtle transitions, lively dialogue, and rich character development.
Communal relevance: At the end of the essay, the reader has the right to ask “So what?” and have it answered. A writer does not merely tell a story for personal reasons, but in order to communicate a larger truth to the reader; the story is the vehicle on which this truth, often metaphorically, rides. The personal essay argues, in a way, that the beauty associated with being a human can often be best expressed through the sharing of stories.
Writing in a concise manner is extremely difficult. Many writers find it easier to start off by writing as much as they want to, as much as they can, and then cutting down afterwards. Edit your lengthy essay by determining what KEY points are most important and which single anecdote truly emphasizes the point you are trying to make.
Do you believe that what goes around comes around? Why? How can you tell?
Is there life after death? What makes you think this?
Is it okay to hurt others to get what you want?
Is it ever okay to steal? Lie? Cheat? When? Why?
What responsibilities do you have if you see a starving child, a homeless man, if the woman in front of you at the grocery store is $1.33 short and can’t pay for her meal, if you witness a car accident, if someone is drowning and you are a lifeguard (but aren’t on duty), if you see a woman beating her child in a supermarket, etc? Are there any situations in which you believe you are morally obligated to do something? If so, what is it that you are obligated to do?
Once you have completed your freewriting, look over the three different freewrites you have created. Which is the most engaging to you? Which calls to you, which do you have more to say about? Evaluate the aspects of the assignment in relation to the freewriting you’ve done; for example,
Does one freewrite seem to be on a topic about which you could speak/write forever?
Does one freewrite have a particularly fitting personal anecdote that you can include in the story?
Will it be possible for you to stay positive regarding the topic you are discussing?
Will you be able to discuss the ONE SINGLE BELIEF in 350-500 words alone?
Once you have addressed these aspects, pick a freewrite and begin to expand on it, moving it towards a rough draft version.