Law School Personal Statements

Can’t think of the right word? Doesn’t matter. Write “X”, “….” or whatever. Just keep your hand moving. You aren’t letting your Lunatic loose if you are stopping to think. Made a spelling mistake? The Lunatic shouldn’t even be paying attention to spelling, and, critically, he must never backspace, delete, or re-read previous words and sentences. Similarly, the Lunatic has neither the time nor the patience for formality. As such, you should not be bothered even if what you’re writing sounds like the musings of a drunken teenager telling stories to friends over text message. Let the ideas flow out of you as they come – don’t bother sitting and thinking about the different directions in which you could take your personal statement. If a new line of thought enters your mind, just write it down. At this stage, the most important thing is getting as much potential content down on the page – so your ideas can and should bounce around.
It may take a few minutes to get in the flow of things. But as the ideas, stories, experiences, insights, free associations, start to tumble out, you may find yourself startled when the alarm you set goes off. Just ignore it and let the ideas flow! In sum, get stuff on paper – a lot of it. Don’t critique yourself, don’t backspace, and don’t pay any attention to spelling, grammatical, or syntactical errors.
The Architect is a planner, a designer, a visionary. If the Lunatic has thrown brick and mortar all over the place, the Architect is here to put them together. Unlike the Lunatic, she is rational and orderly. Like the Lunatic, she doesn’t care for the nitty-gritty details. She takes a look at the various ideas the Lunatic produced and asks: “How can I put these ideas together? In what order? Which fit with which?” The Architect isn’t just interested in grouping ideas together, but thinks about how one idea might flow into another, how to structure your argument or your narrative (or both) for both coherence and effect. The Architect is interested in the big picture of your essay. When in Architect mode, make some outlines based on the ideas your inner Lunatic has generated. Of course, some ideas the Lunatic produces won’t fit together. (Some may not fit at all!) That is fine, however, because you won’t know which personal statement you are going to use until you write a few of them.
Once the Architect has finalized the blueprint(s), the Carpenter can enter the picture. Where the Architect designs, the Carpenter builds. Thus, the Carpenter takes the ideas, phraseology, and inspiration of the Lunatic and the plan of the Architect – and gets to work. She crafts paragraphs, sentence-by-sentence, and polishes each sentence, wordby-word. Thus, your Carpenter should start reviewing specific content – examples, sentences, and paragraphs – and re-working them bit-by-bit. The Carpenter can start paying attention to spelling, word choice, grammar. The Carpenter makes sure sentences cohere together and make sense together.
Once the Carpenter has begun her work, you should be careful to leave the Architect behind. Once you have moved into Carpenter-mode, your concerns about the overarching structure will have to be revisited later In short, your Carpenter does not think about the building as a whole; rather, she is concerned exclusively with crafting the details that make up that structure.
It is important to remember that, although you must separate these writing personalities out and only employ them one-at-a-time, you should feel comfortable switching between them. For example, if the Carpenter uncovers a structural flaw in the outline, you will need to bring the Architect back in. If the ideas don’t stick together quite as well as the Architect hoped, give the Lunatic another shot. Often times, it will be useful to go back-and-forth between these writers. That said, it is important to stay in character and stay focused. When the Carpenter is working and she gets some insights that will be useful for the Architect, for example, she should could doing her carpenting work. We find it helpful to have a notepad where brief ideas for our other writing personalities can be jotted down without breaking our focus on our current mode of work.
If you let the Lunatic, Architect and Carpenter do their best work, they will certainly do it critically, doing their job as exactingly and thoughtfully. Accordingly, the Critic shouldn’t be invited for a viewing too frequently. That said, when the Critic is there, he ought to examines all aspects of the personal statement, from details as small as word choice to much broader issues such as whether the entire essay flows naturally, paints an appealing portrait of you, etc. In short, the Critic is both highly detailed and holistic. In practice, your Coach will help you in all of these capacities. That said, it is always wise to find as many Critics as possible – not just your internal one, but parents, family and friends who can read your writing in its final draft form with a critical eye.
By: Noah Greenfield of InGenius Prep

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