So, apparently, I still know how to write. Earlier, I was asked to write an impromptu essay during an application process. And, surprisingly, I was happy with what I produced.

Firstly, it was longhand writing. Having relied too much on the convenience of backspace and highlight-delete functions the computer offers, I was surprised that I produced a no-erasure word-vomit essay and was happy with it.

In my essay, I talked about my first-ever Dr. Seuss book and how its sing-song quality should also be aspired by Filipino writers of children’s literature. My essay had an anecdotal introduction, informative body, contained the situation in the Philippines, and it had a proper conclusion.

So, what did I learn today? How to write a good (if not great) essay.

  1.  ANECDOTES can make the audience EMPATHIZE with the essay. You want to capture your reader’s attention. Having stories is a good medium to close the gap between the writer and the reader. Like the appeal of reality shows, the audience wants a glimpse of the writer’s life. It can be a good venue for a confessional, but don’t overindulge.
  2. Essays have to be INFORMATIVE. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but backing it up with well-researched facts will make you reach out to scholars and create a tad-bit-more-informed readers. With an informative essay, you could also stir discussion in the comments section (if your work is posted online). In the same vein, the most read blogs are the practical ones. Information is practical (especially to young researchers and those with homework).
  3. Think of your essay as a public property. Similar to being informative, essays have to be SOCIALLY RELEVANT. By that, I don’t mean criticize every issue that’s on the news. No. Just make your essay touch on a universal truth or a proposed truth. For instance, you can talk about your day at the wet market while discussing how great power entails great responsibility.
  4. Essays have to be CULTURALLY AWARE, as well. It is good to discuss what is happening in the international scene vis-à-vis your local context. It makes the essay both personal and informative. Moreover, it allows you to assess what is the situation in your country.
  5. If you fail to check numbers two, three, and four, INTRODUCE SOMETHING NEW and/or CONTRADICTING. For instance, if you discover that chickens can actually grow as huge as their dinosaur ancestors if given a longer life, share it. Or talk about how manufacturing plastics can actually be eco-friendly.

After days of not writing and painting anything and just playing Band Stars, I finally produced this: a reminder that I still know how to write.

During my freshman years in the university, a classmate was asked why she was in the Creative Writing program. She answered, “To express and to inspire.” She became my friend and was the only poet in the Gang. To date, I also consider her someone who said one of the most memorable lines I’ve heard. Indeed, I write to express and aspire to inspire readers. But with this, I also write to remember that I still know how to write.