Sunday, September 7, 2014

Brainstorming Identity for your Personal Statement: Who are you?

Your personal statement for undergraduate or graduate applications should help fill out your application by giving a sense of who you are. The admissions counselors don't want to see a list of your achievements (those should be clear from your transcript and the rest of your application), but rather a piece of writing that expresses you.

Who are you? 

I still ask myself this question (most ridiculously when I'm clothes shopping; do these jeans represent my inner self?) and it isn't an easy question. You don't need to - and can't - express every aspect of yourself. But you can give a sense of yourself through a focused essay. You might choose a single experience, describe it clearly and offer some analysis that connects the experience to your mindset and the world around you. You might explain a blip on your transcript in the same way (did your grades go down one semester because of something that happened?) What about yourself - your history, goals, aspirations, experiences - is missing from the short answer questions throughout the essay?

To brainstorm ideas, you might start with your resume. Then, expand your resume by adding in other achievements that might seem smaller (and irrelevant to a formal resume), but help to show the reader who you are. Did it take particular courage to try out for the improv group? Even if you weren't selected, did you learn something from the tryouts? 

For more help, you might find it helpful to work with me as a private writing coach. I can ask you questions and provide writing assignments that will help you to brainstorm, draft, and edit your essay.  I look forward to hearing from you. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Fresh Beginnings

I love the fresh start that September implies, even if I'm not standing at the corner in new clothes waiting for the school bus. Give yourself a fresh start this fall with permission to set writing goals and take some time to self-evaluate. Now's the time to readjust and make the necessary changes for the new semester (er, season?)

You might set up a new, fall writing schedule. Don't forget to include attending fall literature festivals and readings in your schedule. You might join a writer's room (like this one in D.C.)

What do you have planned for your writing?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Labor Day Writing Coach Sale!

Happy (almost) Labor Day! To celebrate, I am offering a Fourth Free Hour to writers who book three hours of private writing coach services by midnight, September 1st.

During your four hours of private writing coaching, I will read your writing and discuss it with you. You are welcome to write something in response to a prompt or submit previous writing.

Beginning to experienced writers can benefit from my services as a writing coach. We will meet in-person in the Washington, D.C., area, on the phone or Skype video conference.

Email me (chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com) before midnight, September 1st, and you’ll be eligible for a Fourth Free Hour!

The cost for three hours is $300.00. You are welcome to purchase the hours for yourself or a friend. You can also split the hours between yourself and a friend. 

If you book by the deadline and receive a free fourth hour, you are not eligible for the usual 10% discount on booking three hours at once. Limit two discounts per customer. The sale cannot be used towards a group class. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fall Literature Festivals

It's that time of year again: fall literature festivals! Your favorite writers reading their work as you listen surrounded by other writers and readers? Yes, please.

The National Book Festival, held this year at the Washington Convention Center, will be on Sat., August 30th. Sponsored by the Library of Congress, it is completely free.

The Fall for the Book Festival, organized by George Mason University, has many free events on campus and throughout the D.C. area. The festival runs from Sept. 11 - 18th.

The Dodge Poetry Festival, held at NJPAC and throughout historic buildings in Newark, New Jersey, will be held Oct. 23 - 26. Be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time.

For monthly listings of literary events in the Washington, D.C., area, check out the Beltway Poetry Quarterly's Poetry News.

Monday, August 11, 2014

AWP 2015 Minneapolis (or bust?)

Thanks to Rachel Simon, I'm looking forward to presenting on a panel at the upcoming Association of Writers and Writing Programs Annual Conference (AWP) in Minneapolis, April 8 - 11. See you there?

For more information, here's an overview of the conference, full list of accepted events and our panel:

Poets Paying the Bills: Balancing Your Writing and Moneymaking. (Rachel Simon, Chloe Yelena Miller, Hila Ratzabi, Shradha Shah, Mary Austin Speaker) “Poetry” is often synonymous with “poverty.” How do we afford groceries and other necessities? Panelists from diverse professional backgrounds will discuss how they balance their paying jobs (emergency room doctor, freelance editor, adjunct professor, poetry press editor, online instructor, and book designer) with their writing practice and families. Two panelists have small children at home.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Starting Early: Writing Your Personal Statement

Why not get started on your college or graduate school applications this summer? Once school starts in the fall, you'll be busy with the current semester.

Most early applications (early action, early decision or single choice early action) are due November 1st or November 15th and the regular application deadlines are between January 1 - February 1st. That is to say, applications are due right before or after the fall/winter holidays and exams, so now's a good time to get started on your essays.

While schools might have different essay questions or numbers of essays, your goal is to tell something about yourself. It makes sense to choose one specific question about yourself and start brainstorming ideas and drafts. Remember that writing is a process that takes many, many drafts (and time in between them.) The earlier you start, the stronger your final essay(s) will be.

For additional help, I'm available to work with you as a private writing coach. I will help you to brainstorm ideas, organize them and present them clearly. We can work on the Common Application essay, essay questions particular to schools and short response questions.

Remember: Your job is to display your writing skills, critical thinking skills and creativity. The admissions counselors want to learn more about you and what you can do. We can make sure that your skills, experiences and interests are fully represented in your application as a whole. Remember to value your creative side - you might click through to this article on the subject from Harvard.

I am available to meet with at convenient times in person, online or on the phone.

Email me {Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com} to sign up today.

Click here to read more about what happens during a Writing Coach appointment.