Writing about nothing tends to bore, like a trite sitcom or movie with no plot. They lack substance and so will your essay if it isn’t based on:
• Substantive self-reflection.
• Use of specifics, examples, and anecdotes.
• Willingness to reveal your thought processes and feelings.
So start your writing process with self-knowledge. This is not a research paper but an honest assessment of why you belong in a certain specialty. Start with your experiences and your dreams. Search your head and your heart. While they might not go onto the page in such an obvious way, these places are where the substance of a good essay is stored.
Then use anecdotes, specifics, and examples to show that your dreams are grounded in experience. Reveal what you believe is important about your specialty – and by revealing what you value, you’ll reveal something about yourself.
But remember that while good examples can bring your essays to life and engage the reader, essays that are only examples and anecdotes don’t reveal your thought processes, and consequently are also superficial. Make sure you balance your stories with insight and analysis.
Avoid Fatal Flaw #1: Bring your personal statement to life with self-reflection and astute use of examples balanced by analysis.
“Lack of Substance” is the first post in our series, 5 Fatal Flaws: Eliminate the 5 Most Common Flaws in Your Residency Personal Statement. You can download the complete guide right here.