Essay Lab: Getting the Words to Flow

Mix one part approaching holidays with one part looming application deadlines and you may have a recipe for procrastination or full-on writer's block when it comes to writing your essays. But no worries, both are temporary conditions.

If you're in the throes of a case of writer's block, one of the ways to get “unstuck” and develop some good stuff you might be able to use for your essays is to actually take a detour and write about something else. This may seem counterintuitive, but responding to a different -- and slightly provocative -- question than the one you seek to answer in your application essay can help move things along. And doing so can also help you find the heart of things, so that what you say and how you say it can have more impact.

Essay Lab: Day Three Prompts

Still stuck? Or still procrastinating? Here are some more prompts for inspiration. We especially like Michel's last one -- the perfect photo of you that doesn't exist?!?

Deborah Michel, author of the forthcoming novel Prosper In Love and parent to two applicants for the Class of  2016

One of my daughter's essay prompts was "You're looking out a window.  What do you see?" I remember a writer friend using that one, and I like it myself. 

I access art a lot when I'm writing.  So…

                Describe a painting or photograph you love in detail.  What is it about that image? 

                Describe your favorite photograph of yourself.

                Or, better yet:   Describe your favorite photograph of yourself that doesn't actually exist.

The web can also be a good source for prompts. College Admission did some web-surfing (one of our favorite methods of procrastination) and found some links for you:

Prompt generator 

Essay Lab: Day Five Prompts

Today we conclude our first week of the Essay Lab with some final writing exercises for students working on their college application essays.

Shelly King, author of Morning Fog, available in Epiphany 

One of my favorite prompts was from a master class that novelist  Elizabeth Rosner conducted. We described a character by describing an object that is important to him/her. The example she gave was a friend of hers who always wore flip-flops, even in the dead of winter, even when he was hiking. Here are some others:

                Where were you last night?

                I don't remember....

Ken Harvey, author of the memoir, A Passionate Engagement, and the award-winning collection of short stories, If You Were with Me Everything Would Be All Right.

                Talk about a time when you changed your mind.

                Talk about a time when a book surprised you.