Brainstorming is a great way to ease into starting an essay, because it can be as casual as you want.
Sit down with a fresh notepad (or new Word document) and start jotting down some notes.
If you think of yourself as someone who is particularly reflective or able to derive lessons from various life experiences, this is certainly a prompt you would be good at writing.
Before we go any further, we need to address some common pitfalls you should avoid while brainstorming.
The key here is to make use of your brainstorming notes—the more notes you have, the easier this step will be.
So that they stand out, highlight all of the “failures” you enumerated over the course of the first three prompts, paying special attention to the listed lessons you were able to pull from each one. The first is the story of how you were late to ballet class (and thus allows you to discuss your most substantial extracurricular activity), but it doesn’t provide much of a platform for discussing a major life lesson (you learned how important it is to be punctual, and that’s about it).If you are choosing between telling two stories—one recounting how you learned to be responsible and the other recounts that Once you’ve decided on the failure you want to talk about, create an outline that includes three parts: 1) an introduction that sets up a tension or problem you need to solve (likely, the failure you will be discussing), 2) a climax (perhaps the moment when you learned from your failure or its ramifications affected you), and 3) a conclusion (this can be an insight that you are able to have in hindsight or a connection to some larger theme in your life). Try to get down your whole story, start to finish, replete with details about the failure and what you learned from it.To execute this step correctly, you have to really commit. When you feel stumped or lost, return to the prompt. At least 24 hours after completing Step 3, Phase 4 can officially begin.If you come to a conclusion by the end of your essay that a supposed failure was actually a success in and of itself, and you want to argue that there is no such thing as a failure at all, that is acceptable.On the other hand, we caution you from feeling pressured to discuss a failure that has led to a “future success” that you have already achieved.More broadly, though, this prompt is asking you to reflect on times in your life when things did not go as planned and to show that you learned something from those incidents.Thus, it positions you well to show humility and maturity by not only admitting that you are less than perfect (as we all are) but also reflecting on your mistakes and rendering them learning opportunities.This is understandable, since once you become embroiled in writing a 650-word incisive description of yourself, details can fall to the wayside.That said, it’s extremely important to remember the first sentence of Prompt #2: “The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success.”This lesson is stated in no uncertain terms.Since we obviously cannot do that verbally with you here, we’ll do the next best thing: provide you with the brainstorming prompts we would give you in a consultation.Below, you’ll find these—try to come up with at least some response to each one.