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Telling Your Story: Slicing Through the Writer’s Block

A personal statement is really no more than telling a story—one that illuminates the “you” a law school would be lucky to have in its student body. In this series, “Telling Your Story,” jdMission Senior Consultant Mary Adkins discusses how elements of storytelling can—and should—be applied to your personal statement. Stay tuned for more in this series!

We all suffer from writer’s block sometimes, and it can be particularly brutal when the stakes are high… like when you are trying to get into law school.

One way to cut through the blockage is to make a stream-of-conscious list of word associations. Start with a memory (e.g., first grade), a person (e.g., grandmother) or a place (e.g., the beach), and then just write down every word that comes to mind for the next two to three minutes. Do not worry if the words that come to mind are absurd (e.g., tuna, rabbits, dominoes)—they are coming from somewhere, and one of them just might trigger a memory that makes you think, “Ah! That could have a place in this essay.”

This advice may sound a little silly and unguided, but that is precisely the point. When you are experiencing writer’s block, that is a sign that you are too “in your head”—that is, your conscious mind. You need to hop over from your left brain to your right, which is less judgmental and more creative.

The word association list is a tool for doing just this.

Here is one I just did, to give you a sense of how the process can work:

France
Baguettes
Family
Mom
Driving
Parking garage
Parasailing
Pole
Jumping jacks
Downstairs neighbor
Teaching
Quiet
Elevator
Anger
Piece
Peace
Smoking
Karaoke
Time
Aging
Growth
Distance
Frankfurter

When I look at this list, some things just seem ridiculous (frankfurter?), but others spark ideas I could run with. Downstairs neighbor, for example, reminds me of a story I have about my neighbor that might work well for an essay.

Give it a shot. At two minutes, what have you got to lose?

This is a guest post by jdMission, a professional law school admissions consulting firm, specializing in helping law school applicants identify and showcase the strongest aspects of their candidacy in their application.

You can sign up for a free one-on-one consultation with jdMission by submitting the form found at http://jdmission.com/consult.php.

For more information on this topic, check out Law School Podcaster’s podcast, Law School Personal Statements & Letters of Recommendation: Where to Begin?

 

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