9 Ways You Can Multipurpose Your Essay
When applying to colleges; we sweat over our personal essays. Our essays represent us, and we want them to stand out, be well-written, and to pack a punch.
But once the essay has completed its task; we tend to forget them and focus on other kinds of writing.
Essays are often rejected, unappreciated, and forgotten.
If you’re not writing essays; you’re missing out because they’re one of the most versatile and hardworking writing forms out there.
There’s so much you can do with just one essay if you see it as a starting point, not the finish line.
The basic format for an essay can be manipulated and transformed without much effort.
The structure of an essay is made up of an introductory paragraph where the theme is stated, at least three paragraphs of evidence that support your theme, and then at the end of the piece, you have a conclusion.
The essay template is so simple that it’s perfect for changing it into something else.
In improv, there’s a game I love where a player takes a familiar object and by using their imagination changes it into something other than what it is.
A hula hoop becomes an extra-large steering wheel or humongous hoop earrings by how the improviser handles the object and what they say.
If the hula hoop is a hoop-skirt they’d put it over their head, hold it out from the waist, move it up and down, and say something like, “Oh, these hoop-skirts make is so difficult to sit down.”
Other people can tap out the originator of the transformation and the transforming continues until all the ideas are exhausted or the object is switched out for a new one.
This way of looking at things not as they are but as they could be is a valuable gift for the writer.
If you can picture something in its original form, look past what’s obvious and see what could be, the fewer limitations you make for yourself.
Here are some of the things you can do with one essay.
Submit it in its original essay form:
People love reading personal essays — especially ones that they relate to on a personal level.
There were a lot of “This Happened to Me” type essays being published, but now, it seems as if less scandalous and more real essays are popular.
But that’s not to say that there isn’t still a need for your most embarrassing moment or the horrible thing that you experienced; just that you don’t have to write about them if you’re not comfortable doing so.
The first personal essay I ever had published was an “It happened to me” and it was very satisfying to earn that first $50. It gave me my first byline and clipping. The site that it was published on is no more, so if I want, I can change it up and do something else with it.
When you’re re-submitting a piece, you should go over the submission guidelines of a site to make sure they’re okay with a piece that’s been published before.
You also need to make sure that you own the rights of the piece.
Be careful not to plagiarize yourself and make sure you add some new material and mix things up. It will make it more interesting for your regular followers too.
The second thing you can do with an essay is to turn it into an opinion piece.
What was the theme of your essay? The theme now is the center of your new piece. Try to focus entirely on trying to persuade the reader to understand your point of view on a subject. Once done, you’ve got an op-ed.
Turn your essay into a blog post.
Focus on what you learned during the journey of writing the essay, expand on that, and look at what lessons you can share with your reader.
Include your essay into a book of essays or make it a chapter in your memoir.
Make sure that the essay or essays follow the overall theme of the book, and that they fit in with the spirit of the book.
If you’ve got a backlog of essays; you have a number of books!
Tell it as a story:
Take the story (or one of the stories) that you used to illustrate a point and use it as a springboard to build up your storytelling-story.
Memorize it and tell it in a storytelling show or podcast.
All the best writing has to do with story anyway, and writing an essay can help you to learn about how to show rather than just tell.
Read the piece as is in an essay show.
Essay shows are a good way to show off your writing, let’s you hear it out loud, (so that you can make appropriate changes,) and it’s a good way to meet other writers and performers.
Turn your essay into a scene for a screenplay or play.
One of the techniques of showing versus telling is by using dialogue. Take the dialogue from your essay and expand it.
Use your essay as a writing prompt.
Let’s say in the first essay you talked about how hard it was to get closure after a breakup, but you still have a lot more to say.
Do some brainstorming using the first essay’s theme and see where your creativity takes you.
Fictionalize your essay.
Sometimes reality is too much for people to handle and you’d really rather not have to deal with their drams.
If you wanted to go into more detail about how your ex screwed you over but knew that they would get extremely upset if you revealed some of their secrets and might take legal action, fictionalize it.
I’ve been amazed at how you can write about someone and think it’s obvious that it’s them and they don’t recognize themselves at all.
Use real people as inspiration and then go whether your imagination takes you — as far away from the original source as you want to go.
An essay can be a basic template for so many creative projects and is so often underutilized.
All it takes is opening your mind to new possibilities. Instead of seeing just an essay, look at it from a different perspective.
What else can you do with that essay and what can it do for you?