The worst part of law school application season isn’t the essay or the LSAT. It’s coping with writer’s block – and the fear, doubt, and frustration that comes with it.
OVERTHINKING AND UNDERTHINKING
Applicants often run into writer’s block when they find themselves overthinking or underthinking a prompt.
“That is understandable, because the personal statement is the most important part of the law school application outside of your GPA and LSAT score,” Waldman writes. “It’s one of the few glimpses admissions committees will get into your personality.”
Whether you find yourself overthinking or underthinking your personal statement, it can be helpful to take a step back before you start writing.
“The underlying problem is that the writer is trying to put the cart before the horse, deciding on the conclusion prior to doing the research,” Waldman writes. “Sure, you absolutely want to include some achievements and humbly brag about your fantastic qualities. But in having tunnel vision about including them, you’re forgetting the more important part – how they came about.”
Waldman says it’s helpful for applicants to really ask themselves what they are passionate about before dedicating time to writing.
“First, if a personal experience that isn’t solely related to your academic or career accomplishments is important enough for you to include in your law school personal statement, you’re likely passionate about it,” he writes. “And passion is what makes a personal statement – and any essay, really – engaging.”
Connecting your passion to a specific narrative is the next step.
“Second, as you’re writing about it, keep only a vague end game in mind – typically, why you want to go to law school – and let the other parts come more organically,” Waldman writes. “You’ll find that some skills will not fit into the narrative you’ve chosen, and it will be much easier to let go of them than if you had chosen the skills first and then tried to find a story that would fit them.”
ASK YOURSELF “WHY”
In a post about personal statements, admissions officers at Harvard Law stressed that the personal statement is, above all, personal.
“Our main concern is that you write about something that is quintessential to us understanding who you are,” according to the post. “We want to learn about you, so please don’t leave us wishing we could admit your relative, student, or client.”
For applicants that find themselves getting writer’s block, Waldman suggests they ask themselves one question:
“What are the most important things to me, and why?”
“When you have the answer, take a deep breath and start writing,” he writes. “You’ll be amazed by the difference it makes.”