Hello! This is my first post on here, so I hope I'm doing this more or less correctly :)
PROMPT: Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, or an ethical dilemma-- anything that is of personal significance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
WORD COUNT: 780/650 <-- Some help with cutting out/trimming the unnecessary parts would be greatly appreciated
I'm not sure that I've ever been a particularly good writer. I used to write, often, when I was younger. I was constantly reading, and constantly reading turned into constantly dreaming, and from there all it took was a pencil and a piece of paper and suddenly there were words streaming out with the force and grace of waterfalls cascading down the sides of cliffs. I shared them with the enthusiasm of my age, reciting poetry of my own creation and of others', hanging the stories I had got perfect scores on on the fridge. Writing was easy and it was always, in the margins of notebooks during class and when I was home alone and bored, and everything I turned in came back with smiling stickers and fractions equal to one.
My teachers said I was good at writing, and so for me, writing was easy, and fun, and I was proud of it. I started middle school.
I was introduced to five paragraph essays, ones where each paragraph was to be exactly five sentences long, and our outline worksheets were not the overlarge hamburger diagrams of my youth but something solid and simple: boxes, with bolded words at the top to make sure every student knew exactly what to write inside. It was fine. I wrote inside the boxes, and it was boring, and my five five-sentence paragraphs were turned in on double spaced and double sided paper, and they were fine. The fractions turned into percents, and sometimes there were even stickers, and I started to really enjoy math.
Sometimes we wrote stories, or poetry, and those were always our creative writing pieces. When we were told to write, it was analysis, with quotations and fill-in-the-blank style formatting, and we had our writing folders and our creative writing folders. Our writing folders were always thicker.
As you grow older, you start to dream less. Life fills with responsibilities and there is less time for pleasure. The constraints and guides you hated but relied on are taken away, and with more room for creation you find yourself stuck in a creation-less mind. I barely wrote poetry. I did not write stories. When we were assigned to write creatively, I struggled finding a way to do so. When we were assigned to write, I couldn't. I had been taken in from the wild and sheltered, growing so used to being fed by hand that when I was returned to my birthplace, I could no longer live there. Words did not flow, as I was given leave to write essays with unspecified numbers of paragraphs that were to be written in varied lengths, my brain sputtered and gave up. Essays could be written as I wrote stories: creativity was now a part of the dreaded essay, and with so much room to grow, I froze.
I could not write.
I could think, though, and there was plenty of that. Thoughts of failure, mostly, as what I wanted to say and share refused to leave my head, bouncing around with each pass making them grow in frantic energy. The faster they spun, the harder they were to grab, until the words I wrote had no connection to the things I thought, and with gestures of finality I would scratch them out, walking away until the impeding doom of deadlines gave me no choice but to walk right back.
The adults who once smiled and congratulated me now pulled me aside after class with worried frowns, offering help with a side of concern that left a sour taste in my mouth. I would smile, will the tears out of my eyes, and refuse. I was proud. I had once been the student who asked their teacher for extra writing prompts, and now that half the assignments I turned in were turned in late. I'm not sure how many meetings I skipped, and in turn how many informal detentions with frustrated English teachers and lunches with guidance counselors it took until I admitted I needed help.
Help was happily given and begrudgingly received. I was a belligerent student, and for every meeting of talk and discussion that resulted in essays turned in on time, there were several more in which I sat in silence and moped, mourning my loss of prideful independence as I now had to rely on others to compete the tasks I once did so easily, and yet with each finished product and each resulting grade (many of which significantly lower than what I was used to, but climbing higher, always, always just a little bit higher) came a joy and relief so much sweeter.
Hey Sof. I really loved your writing style. I loved the use of imagery, particularly your theme of nature. Instead of saying "with so much room to grow" I think you could replace "grow" with "explore" to build on that nature theme.
I think that you should expand upon the struggle between conformity and originality. I definitely feel like there is an "either the system changes, or you change" and I think that you should explore more how you changed and whether or not that was a good thing or a bad thing.
I also think that you are alluding to how education is taught as a metaphor for life. How both life and education conforms people and strips away at their originality, and I definitely think that you could expand on that theme. The brilliant thing about this is how it works so perfectly. You being unable to function once you were actually given the opportunity to be creative is much like how teenagers are forced to be independent all of a sudden, despite the fact that they had people telling them what they could and could not do their entire lives.
I think that you need to pay more attention to the second half of the prompt. You identified the problem, the way writing was taught, but you haven't laid out any clear steps in which you can overcome the problem. The last paragraph shows the obvious clashing of you and the school system. I think that you could perhaps say that you don't want to change for the school system, even if it results in lower grades and be more true to yourself.
Either way, I think that this is definitely a well-written essay.
There's a lot of details. Which is good, but considering the word count I would try to skim the fat a bit.
For instance this line
Sometimes we wrote stories, or poetry, [...] Our writing folders were always thicker.
You can try to condense this into one or two sentences.
Or perhaps here
When we were assigned to write, [...] and with so much room to grow, I froze.
Hi Sofia, first of all WELCOME to the Essay Forum, we hope to provide you with a comprehensive and accurate feedback that will boost your confidence in writing and be ready for any projects you may have in the future.
Now, as I read though your essay, I loved the fact that it is very interactive, full twists and turns and more importantly, as a reader, there is some sort of imaginative relation to the events that took place in the essay. What I'm saying is that, you wrote an essay base on experience and you wrote it in a way that your readers are able to comprehend the message. There is also a good balance of unusual words that keeps the interest of the reader, however, as much as I encourage you to write with full details, when it comes to an essay with word restrictions, I suggest, you prioritize the ideas that are more pertinent to the purpose of the essay, in this case, as it is a personal essay on intellectual challenge, I suggest deleting the part where you elaborately wrote your progress from 3rd to 4th paragraph, I believe you can summarize this and create one full paragraph.
I hope this insights helped.