Law School Personal Statements (Part 2): Finding Great Topics

Law schools are looking for four elements in your personal statement:

Your VALUES,
your INTERESTS,
your PERSONALITY, and
your POINT-OF-VIEW.

How do you find great essay topics that will reveal those four elements?

Unlike the advice given by many prelaw professionals, I don’t believe in tackling the personal statement topic head-on. That doesn’t work for 90% of the law school applicants out there.

Go ahead and ask yourself: “What’s an important topic or event from my life that I can write about that will represent who I am in 2-3 pages?”

No pressure, huh? Trying to answer this kind of loaded question typically gives you writer’s block.

As I explain in the video above, there’s another way to go about finding potential personal statement topics. You need to mine your past for stories. I call it, digging for gold. But how? How are you going to find great stories for your personal statement?

Through free-writing. I have all of my clients free-write to 49 writing prompts. Yes, 49. Today, I want you to try free-writing to 10 prompts.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Find a place where you can be undisturbed for one hour.
  2. Take out a pen and pad of paper.
    1. If you write very slowly or you can’t read your writing, type your responses on your computer. Just be mindful to only type forward. Do not correct yourself!
    2. If you can’t write by hand or type quickly enough, record your responses into a recorder and type them up later.
  3. Set the timer on your cell phone, watch or kitchen timer to 6 minutes.
  4. Start the timer and for the first prompt listed below, write as quickly as you can.
  5. Be free. Be open. Be honest.
  6. Don’t edit. Don’t censor. Don’t cross out anything!
  7. This is important: don’t stop writing. If you can’t think of anything, write or type a saying over and over again. It can be anything. Keep writing until more thoughts appear.
  8. When the timer goes off, STOP.
  9. Set your timer again and repeat with the next prompt.

Here are your 10 writing prompts:

1. My favorite snack from childhood…
2. The neighborhood I spent my childhood in…
3. My favorite book from childhood…
4. When I was a little kid, I loved to…
5. My religion growing up…
6. If I could change one thing about the town or city I grew up in…
7. What I liked best about high school…
8. What I hated about high school…
9. The family I grew up in emphasized…
10. If I could change anything about my college years…

At the end of the hour, read over what you’ve written.

Which prompts still call to you? Go back and keep writing. See where your writing takes you.

If you don’t have more time, put your writing aside. Tomorrow, come back to your writing and read it over. Do you feel pulled to write more about anything? If yes, keep writing. Allow yourself to release whatever has been stored up inside.

If you don’t feel compelled to write more, and an essay topic hasn’t shown itself yet, then come up with more prompts. These 10 prompts are just a few examples of what you could use. There are an infinite number of prompts you could free-write about. Watch my video again and write your own prompts.

The more you free-write, the more you will allow your subconscious to unearth the memories and stories that shaped the person you are today.

I’ve been using this technique with my clients for years and it works. Try it before you knock it.

You will be amazed at what you will discover about yourself when you stop thinking and start writing.

Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours?

Want more help? Take my class, Write Your Personal Statement in 7 Days. It’s a great way to get support and structure for writing a personal statement in a short amount of time.

Have questions or comments about the law school personal statement? I’d love to hear from you! I’m here to help. Post your questions below and I’ll respond.