Well Done Accomplishments Essay
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It was early May, and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom as the sun shimmered between the passing clouds. Except for a mandatory essay assignment about one of the sights, it was a perfect day for a visit to the nation's capital. What I had not anticipated was a sleek, black memorial that angled out from the side of a hill. Gazing at the stark granite and the infinite list of names, I could not imagine choosing another sight to write about. So much emotion existed there. I simply had to transcribe those intangible feelings onto paper.
I wasn't very surprised to be included as one of the finalists in the "Best D.C. Essay Contest." I was, however, shocked to win first place in the eighth-grade division. The essay was then passed along to the President of the local VFW post, which was sponsoring a Memorial Day essay contest. Here, too, I won in the eighth-grade division. The awards were purely worldly items: a year's supply of Coca-Cola, a $25 check, and the chance to ride on a float in the City of Greensburg parade.
At the end of the parade, a ceremony followed. I stood up, walked over to the podium, and began:
"A young child rubs off the name of a grandfather seen only in photographs..."
I looked up and saw all the eyes on me. The nervous feelings that traveled with me from my seat to the podium were now long gone. The words I had written flowed easily from my mouth. I wanted everyone, even those who had never seen the Memorial, to feel the same sentiments that I had felt. I don't remember people clapping after I finished reading my essay. Maybe they were too moved to make a motion; maybe I was too moved to hear them.
As my family and I were walking back to our car, the VFW President stopped me. He told me that he had served in Vietnam and that some of his friends' names appeared on that wall. He was one of the contest judges, and he had found it difficult to complete reading my composition from behind his tears. He had to give it to his wife to finish. When he concluded his story I replied, "Thank you," but I was completely dumbfounded as to what to say. The idea that he was moved by my simplistic writing made me realize that I was a writer! I had reached into someone's internal self, touched it, and left a mark.
Reading my essay to everyone was one of the most memorable moments in my life. That day I realized something very valuable about the power of the written word—if you place the right words in the right order, you can change people's lives! Despite my many remarks to adults that I was going to be an engineer or scientist, I knew deep down that I really wanted to continue writing. To remain satisfied, I would have to publish my writings. What good is a powerful statement if it isn't heard or read? The answer was clear: I would become a journalist.
Sometimes I wonder where my road to the future would be leading me if that man had never approached me after my oration that day. I never would have known that someone had listened and cried because of my words. "Memories in Granite" would have been pushed into a manila folder and never have been thought of. The only time I would have even remembered the essay would have been while sipping my refreshing—and free—Coca-Cola.
Now, every time I imagine myself covering a plane crash or writing an article about some new political scandal, I think of that little essay and the lives it affected. I visualize the personal satisfaction of seeing my name in the by-line of the story thousands all over the region are reading. I can only imagine touching people's souls, the way I did that one day Memorial Day.
This student is clearly a good writer. He establishes setting and context without doing so explicitly. By stating, "What I had not anticipated was a sleek, black memorial that angled out from the side of a hill. Gazing at the stark granite and the infinite list of names, I could not imagine choosing another sight to write about," he allows the reader to infer that he has come face-to-face with a war memorial, a moving tribute he has chosen as the topic of his contest essay.
The second paragraph opens with a sentence that seems to indicate the student may be a bit conceited. However, he quickly follows it with a statement that relates his humble nature: "I was, however, shocked to win first place in the eighth-grade division." The fourth paragraph succeeds in creating a vivid sense of the situation in the reader's mind.
The applicant notes the power of the event through the statement: "He was one of the contest judges, and he had found it difficult to complete reading my composition from behind his tears. He had to give it to his wife to finish." Focusing on how the man's response to his essay moved the student to realize his passion for and ability in writing evinces a mature young man focused on a clear goal ("Despite my many remarks to adults that I was going to be an engineer or scientist, I knew deep down that I really wanted to continue writing."). This is the big accomplishment—self-realization. What makes this applicant special is that he has followed up on his interest in writing, thinking about the ways in which he will use his skill in the future: "Now, every time I imagine myself covering a plane crash or writing an article about some new political scandal, I think of that little essay and the lives it affected."
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It feels something like this.
I just finished a very important writing project, a proposal for a new book I’m ghostwriting. It was a tough project, one that took a month longer than expected, and included a journey around the world, dozens of hours of research, a few exhausting back-and-forths with my client, not to mention many long days huddling over the keyboard, trying to make the words come out right.
Yesterday, I read through my finished proposal and then sent it off to my agent.
Man, it feels so good.
Remember This Feeling During the Writing Process
How do you feel when you finish a writing project? Spend a moment thinking about that feeling:
- the sense of accomplishment
- the feeling of relief
- the realization that you’ve put something valuable out into the world
- the anticipation to hear what your readers think
Every time the writing gets tough, think of how good it will feel to finish.
When you’re hit with writer’s block, think of that sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you finally write, “The End.”
When you just want to sleep in and can’t motivate yourself to get up and write, try to remember how good you’ll feel at the end of the process.
Celebrate Your Writing Victories
Writing is hard work. As you probably already know, there will be times when you want to quit and give up. There will also be times when you share your writing with the world and people don’t like it, or worse, ignore you altogether.
However, the fact that writing is such hard work is the very reason we need to celebrate our writing victories. If you have seen your writing project through to the end, you’ve accomplished something important, something many people wish they could do but haven’t.
Take it in. Revel in it. Breathe in deep and celebrate the fact that you’ve finished.
And Then Start Your Next Writing Project
One of the most vulnerable times for writers is just after they’ve finished their last writing project. It’s so easy to rest on your laurels, to let laziness creep into your habit.
Instead, get started writing your next project today. Don’t let yourself get stagnate. Start working on the next story, blog post, or book.
As good as it feels to finish, the best feeling of all is to be writing something new.
How about you? How do you feel when you finish a writing project?
Write a scene about a writer who has just finished his or her latest book. How does he or she celebrate?
Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers and leave them a comment in the comments section.