Let me guess…the scholarship essay is giving you and your family the blues. What can you possibly write that will get you noticed without sounding fake or phony?
You need the committee to “get you” on paper. You want them to understand what you’re trying to say, be able to connect with you and give you the money you need to pay for college.
But how do you do it? Especially if you hate writing.
Why is writing a scholarship essay so hard?
I can’t pretend as if I’m not guilty when it comes to getting things done. I’ve pulled some all-nighters to finish papers; I’ve procrastinated; and I’ve produced some of my best work with little sleep, coffee, and Pandora.
I’ve never been a fan of writing under pressure. So when my parents needed me to earn scholarships, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Even after I won a few scholarships, I still struggled. I wondered if my essays were really what the committee wanted because I didn’t feel great while writing them. All I knew was that I tried and stressed out.
It’s one thing to write essays for school. You know what your teacher likes or hates and even if they like you (or if they don’t).
[info-box type=”success”]Real Talk: You or your student can write well enough to earn a good grade and keep it moving, but figuring out how to write so that your essay is the best among tens, hundreds, or thousands of applicants is a different story.[/info-box]
It’s harder to do.
How to Get Started on Your Scholarship Essays
The key to getting started on your scholarship essays is… to just get started…with courage.
Do you realize that no one else in this world is like you?
Not even close?
Even if you’re a twin, there’s still no other individual that thinks, looks, acts, dreams, desires, or does anything exactly like you! It’s genetically impossible.
There is only one you. There will only be one you.
Quiet the voices in your head.
You don’t have to love writing to write. You don’t have to be a writer to write. You just have to be writing to well…actually, write.
Undoubtedly, we’ve all experienced a time where we’ve lacked inspiration and the necessary motivation. The paper or screen is waiting for our words of wisdom, but we have no idea what to say or where to start.
Here are a few of the things I do and suggest when you’re struggling with coming up with ideas:
Idea #1: Silence Your Critics
Sometimes we are our biggest critic. It’s easy to say we can’t, aren’t good enough, suck, are terrible, or that we’ll never be able to be like so-and-so.
It’s not easy to tell that inner voice to leave us alone so that we can work and get things done. I understand because it’s something that I struggle with often.
In order to silence the critics in our heads or the doubters in our lives, all we can do is the best that we can do. Be okay with whatever results may come, because you’ll know that you did your best.
It’s easier said than done, but it’s definitely doable.
What makes you feel invincible? For me, drinking from my Batman coffee mug sparks my creativity. Think about what makes you feel powerful and use that as a trigger to shut your haters up!
Idea #2: Copy, Paste, Repeat
Before every English teacher and professor in America comes to get me, let me explain.
I want you to copy some of your best work. Copy the best things you’ve ever written. (There’s got to at least be that one paper you’re proud of or you put your all into.)
Paste this paper or pieces of it into a separate Word document.
Then repeat this process by finding other clever things that spark your interests (gifs, memes, posts, thoughts, ideas, sayings, pictures, posts, tweets). Begin to create a source of inspiration for yourself to refer to whenever you get stuck
Idea #3: Turn Down for What?
You’ve got to have a favorite song. Turn it up! Dance around, get crazy, and have some fun!
Idea #4: Stare Into Space
Stare at the wall, out the window, or at your monitor, but let your mind wander wherever it wants.
The best ideas can come when you let your mind focus on things unrelated to the topic.
Idea #5: Recharge
If you’ve had a long day in class, school, or work, your mind needs some time.
It’s okay to take a break if you feel like you keep getting stuck. Sometimes you just need to spend a few minutes doing nothing.
Idea #6: Change Your Environment
Write at Starbucks, the library, the kitchen table, the cafeteria, or outside.
If your current location isn’t helping you get the job done, find a place where you feel inspired.
Idea #7: Watch some YouTube, TV, DVR, or Netflix
I get sucked into the YouTube and Netflix black hole all the time. The recommendations lure me in only to return hours later.
There’s nothing wrong with spending some time watching a little entertainment to spark your creative juices.
Idea #8: Write for Yourself
The secret to getting your scholarship essays done is to write for yourself.
Express yourself without stopping. Do not censor any word you decide to put on paper.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The first draft of your scholarship essay will NOT be what you submit. It’s a starting point.” quote=”The first draft of your scholarship essay will NOT be what you submit. It’s a starting point.”]
Write for you!
I get that not everyone likes to write and that there are tons of hacks on what to do if you hate writing. But in order to earn scholarships, you’re going to have to write something first.
With as much writing as you do in college (lab notes, research papers, analyses), writing is just something that comes with being a student.
Start with you when writing your essay. It doesn’t matter if you write your honest opinion, if you make a story up, or if you completely copy the style of something you’ve found online. It’s about moving the needle. It’s about starting.
Getting Over Writer’s Block
“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.” – Les Brown
There is no right or wrong way to go about working through writer’s block.
You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to try.
Piece together sentences as they come to you.
Whatever you do, don’t let scholarship essay applications get the best of you.
Feel free to share some of your ideas below. I’d love to hear them 🙂
Feature Image Artwork Credit: iStockPhoto/RichVintage