Writing prompt: this i believe identity & metamorphoses fall 2020

Writing Prompt: This I Believe

Identity & Metamorphoses

Fall 2020

NYUAD – Prof. A. Hilgendorf

You are restructuring and rewriting your own statement of personal belief. I understand

how challenging this is—it requires intense self-examination, and many find it difficult to

begin, but you already have. To guide you through this process, consider this structure:

Tell a story about you: Be specific. Move your “belief” from the abstract to the

understandable, out of a mental space you understand to one that your audience can

connect to and understand. Ground the belief in the events that have shaped your core

values. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own

experience, life, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your

story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should

be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the

shaping of your beliefs.

Be specific, “Show, don’t tell”: Your draft should be between 600 to 1000 words. Notice

how specific the topics are within the essays you read. What is specific to you may have a

wider impact with the detail of the specificity.

Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about

belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief. Think of ways to

state the belief in more than one way throughout the text.

Be positive: Write about what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid

statements of religious dogma, preaching, or editorializing. 

Be personal: Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. Avoid speaking in the

editorial “we.” Tell a story from your own life; this is not an opinion piece about social

ideals. Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. I recommend you

read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until

you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.

This personal essay is a creative exercise and will not be graded once you submit your

essay. You are encouraged to take risks as a writer.


a)  Use Times New Roman, 12-point font 

b)  Always type and double-space your work 

c)  Give each assignment a title of your choice. 

d)  For each document you submit, title your assignment

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