How to Write a Short Essay About Yourself: Step-By-Step

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Writing or even talking about yourself may not come easily to you. However, for professional or educational reasons, it’s often a necessity. There are other instances when writing about yourself may make more sense, as you can provide the rawest and most honest perspective.

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You should feel empowered—not intimidated—in taking on a writing project about yourself. Use it as a way to challenge how you view your own experiences, talents, and more. We’ll discuss some steps for writing about yourself as well as provide a few examples.  

Steps for Writing About Yourself

Writing isn’t for everyone, especially when it’s required. As much as you may dislike it, following the steps below can help the process go that much more smoothly.

If you find that following a different order than what we’ve recommended for you works better for your process, feel free to adjust accordingly. 

» MORE: You shouldn’t need to make an expensive appointment to make a legal will.

 

Step 1: Determine your purpose 

What’s causing you to write this “thing” about yourself? What exactly are you writing? It may surprise you that people write all kinds of pieces for themselves—even writing your own obituary isn’t out of the question anymore. 

The more specific you can get with yourself about your purpose will help the rest of the process. If it’s something stressful, like a college admission essay or a cover letter, try to frame the project in a different light. 

For example, “I’m writing this essay to show people my heart and how passionate I am about removing disparities and barriers in healthcare. I believe in my abilities, and I want to further my education, so I can help heal people.”

Step 2: Ask yourself some questions 

For any good piece of writing, there has to be fact behind it (if even these facts are abstract in narrative or fiction). The best way to gather facts about any subject is to ask a variety of questions, both soft- and hard-hitting. 

You may ask these questions internally, during research, or directly and literally. Treat this question step as a self-interview.

Here are some questions to ask yourself. You may also ask yourself:

  • What is my goal of writing this piece?
  • What themes or ideas do I want to focus on?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are some important lessons I’ve learned?
  • What do I want others to know or understand about me?

Step 3: Organize your answers 

After asking yourself the example questions above as well as others, you should be sure to write down your answers and begin organizing them if you haven’t already. 

It may be tempting to just answer your own questions in your head as you go—but don’t. This will just make the writing step more difficult. You may think that you’ll remember every good point or profound thought you come up with, but memory is a tricky thing. 

If you’re working through your questions during a time when you’re not ready or able to sit down and type or scribble them out, at least make some notes in your phone or in a journal so you can have some descriptive hints for later. No matter how big of an epiphany you may have, it’s possible you’ll forget it. 

Step 4: Write a draft 

If your ideas are already fairly organized, writing your draft should come fairly easily to you. The draft process, however, is when you can start spicing things up with anecdotes, your own personal voice, themes, metaphors—all that fun stuff. The point in you writing something about yourself for yourself is for the very reason that you can make it unquestionably you.

Dull, watered-down words or even over-hyped language from a thesaurus plug-in isn’t going to impress anyone. Writing something about yourself (unless the assignment is creative or unorthodox) isn’t the time to act like something you’re not.

All of this being said, don’t stress yourself out too much. Letting your ideas flow freely and then editing or revising them later is how you should approach the process anyway. You don’t want to put too many restrictions on your ideas from the get-go. Warring with yourself about your ideas while writing is only going to tire you out sooner. 

Think about it—you may spend hours trying to write a piece while overthinking that’s no better than a draft you could have written in 30 minutes on the fly. Not being totally in love with your first draft is normal. It just allows you that much more room to improve. 

Step 5: Put your progress aside

Much like during the draft process, it’s very possible to overthink your work after it’s mostly done. If you constantly keep re-reading it or rehashing your ideas in your head, they may start to sound odd, or you may try to add where you need to trim. 

For example, the same concept applies to repeating the same word over and over aloud — it’ll likely start to sound strange or even wrong the more you hear it. This also applies to music — ever play a song you love over and over till you hate it? 

You need to give your words and your brain some time to rest away from each other until you try to make any drastic edits or changes. That being said, you may love what you’ve written already and decide you don’t need to change a thing—that’s great!

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Step 6: Review and edit

After your break, you can pick up your writing once again. Read it with a critical eye. Go back and think deeply about your purpose and any provided prompts. Have you answered everything you intended to or are required to?

It’s not uncommon—though devastating—to write an entire piece only to realize you wrote from the wrong frame of reference or focused on the wrong issue. For example, if you were asked to write about a challenge you overcame in your life by following an important virtue, but you only wrote about winning a basketball championship and not the struggle behind it, this may miss the mark. 

If you find a good number of issues in your work, don’t feel tempted to scrap the entire thing. What may work instead is to copy and paste your writing line-by-line into a new document. This way, you can save as much as possible while being sure to resolve even small discrepancies.

Step 7: Finalize your work

After you’ve undergone the brutal process of self-editing (or enlisting help from someone else you trust) you can prepare yourself for the home stretch. Finalizing your work shouldn’t take very long.

Your process may differ; however, it’ll likely come down to reading over your work a few more times just to make sure you haven’t missed words, punctuation, or proper grammar. 

It’s OK to use this step to feel proud of yourself, too. You may not take a lot of time to reflect on your life and everything you’ve been through—it’s important to practice self-love in this way and celebrate your accomplishments.

Tips for Writing About Yourself Creatively or Confidently

Talking or writing about yourself may not be everyone’s cup of tea. For example, did you need to provide a fun fact recently but draw a blank? You’re not alone. In fact, many people have a false assumption that they’re boring. 

On the flip side, perhaps you’re used to talking about yourself, or, at least you’ve got the “fake it till you make it” type of confidence down-pat. However, you too can only benefit from adding a bit more razzle-dazzle to your spiels and writing assignments. Here are a few tips for writing about yourself creatively or confidently.  

Allow yourself space

If you have an upcoming project or writing assignment that has you on edge, consider stepping away. Even if you don’t consider yourself an outdoorsy person, a walk around the block may help you breathe and get your creativity flowing. Naturally, the more sound your idea or angle, the more confident you’ll feel about your upcoming performance.  

Keep that ego in check

An underinflated ego is just as bad as an overinflated one. Pay close attention to your internal dialogue when approaching new projects or writing tasks (or, honestly anything that comes up during your day). How much of what swirls around in your mind is fact? How much of it is just fleeting thoughts or opinions? You are not your thoughts, and you always have choices. Make good ones and be kind to yourself. 

Try this: Instead of thinking to yourself, “Wow, this is a really complex writing assignment. I can’t do this.” Or, “How am I ever going to get into my dream school with this essay? I’m not a strong writer.” 

Change your internal dialogue to, “I have good ideas. I may not have my plan figured out right now, but I’ll get it done,” or, “I have so many great skills to bring to the table and I am very passionate about what’s brought me here. I will convey this the best I can.”

» MORE: You shouldn’t need to make an expensive appointment to make a legal will.

 

Crowdsource

Sometimes an outside opinion can give us much-needed perspective. Ask your friends, family, loved ones, or coworkers to describe you in a few words or even in abstract ways. Don’t view this as you’re fishing for compliments. Ask your loved ones for honesty, as this insight can only help you when writing about yourself. 

Build up a fuel bank

Pulling inspiration out of thin air may not always be possible. However, if you build up a few reliable sources of inspiration, the next time a project hits, you’ll be prepared. You can fuel your creativity and confidence in a variety of ways. 

For example, you can create certain playlists for different moods, save favorite art or graphics in a digital folder or keep printed versions in your home or office, write down affirmations or notes-to-self in a journal or app, and so on. 

Reflect on past accomplishments and setbacks

Even if you aren’t a fan of journaling, writing about yourself is far easier if you take the time to reflect, if only mentally. If you know you have a deadline to write about yourself in the near future, you may want to physically or mentally jot down a few real-life examples or experiences that come to mind. 

But how do you get in the right headspace to reflect? What if you only witness recurring thoughts about past events while trying to fall asleep? Be sure to practice the first tip in this section: Give yourself some space to think. For once, limit the distractions, keep all other screens put away or turn on your "do not disturb" feature.

Now, think about some past accomplishments or setbacks that may not even seem relevant to the topic of the assignment. You may have an epiphany about unrelated things or discover something about how you operate. For example, you might realize that you feel less nervous in social and professional settings if you call out your anxiety as being excited. 

Examples of Writing About Yourself

Even if you feel super confident about writing about yourself now, we wanted to provide a few short examples to help you get started. Your tone, word choice, and more may differ depending on which piece you’re working on.

Here are some tips for writing or publishing your life story you may also find helpful. 

In a memoir or essay

Those were probably the best and the worst days of my life. I had never felt more happy and never felt more sad. I felt as though I were so close to having everything I had ever wanted, yet it seemed with every step forward, I had to take two steps back. It was exhausting. How did I get through it? To be quite honest, I have no damn idea. 

Perspective helped. I knew I could have had it way worse; I knew that my struggle wasn’t unique. I knew, too, that even when the small wins would come they’d have yet another loss right on their tails. I paid dearly for having too much heart and optimism, so I regularly had to hose myself down with logic and pessimism. 

On your blog or website

If you’re reading this, it’s too late. Just kidding! That’s just a really good Drake album. I wanted to take some time to talk about what’s been going on in my life lately for those of you who are nosey enough to care. Again, kidding, I know some of you really care. I’m so grateful to have even this small following that I have. It’s wild, really. Who would have thought that people want to know what’s going on in my head at any given time? Joke’s on you guys, though, because I don’t fully know all the time. 

I guess I’ll start off by saying that work has been a whirlwind. As you all know, it isn’t an easy time for anyone, so please don’t take this declaration as a complaint. I’m thrilled to still have a job despite everything going on. However, leaving this reflection at just that would be doing both myself and you all a disservice. It’s weak. It doesn’t really describe what’s been going on. Allow me to continue.  

In a college essay

When I was young, my grandmother told me I couldn’t please everyone — that some people just wouldn’t like me for no reason at all. This was very hard for me to swallow at times. What does this have to do with who I am today and why I plan to attend your university? 

Well, this early lesson demonstrates that in order for this world to keep spinning, we all have to be unwavering in our own pursuits. We are ourselves. We can’t be anyone else. In that, we all have the responsibility to bring our unique talents, wisdom, and heart to the table — even when we’re seated across from people who may not like us. 

Sometimes Only You Can Do It

Writing about yourself may always be challenging for you, but who better to do so than who knows you best? If you work through the process in every situation and give yourself some patience, there’s no question that you can’t craft something amazing. You may also be interested in this article about how to write family stories.

Your written words mean more than you think. This becomes a part of your legacy when you're gone, and it's one of the ways you'll be remembered. While many families choose custom urns from Foreverence or even to craft memorial diamonds from Eterneva, your words are something that live after you're gone.

While it might not seem natural at first, learning to write about yourself, your perspective, and your experiences carries a lot of significance. Who knows who might read these words when you're gone?

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