The Patience of a Writer

Teenagers must write their autobiography as a requirement for college applications, which is a complicated task. Writing one’s life story requires reflecting on intricate, existential questions, like “Who am I?” and “What’s my purpose in life?” And, most teens quickly recognize they have little self-awareness, just the first in a series of writer’s blocks

However, as Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried, so aptly elucidates about writing, which is particularly apt for autobiographical writing:

You [as a writer] take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present. 

Thus, teenagers are rich with content from which to draft. Yet, the next challenge is believing one has something worthwhile to say. 

As such, teenage writers need to practice patience, which Mr. O’Brien forewarns is essential, in order to inventory their lives under the duress of a deadline:

The memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty soon imagination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. 

As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting things down as they come at you.

Students write when they write.

Thus, parents would also be prudent to heed Mr. O’Brien’s advice. No amount of cajoling, threatening, punishing, project managing, setting interim deadlines will impel a student to recognize their story any faster than they do. Instead, support their children as they attempt to write this most difficult essay chronicling the meaning of their lives.

Creative Marbles was founded by teachers who appreciate helping students craft insightful essays, first in the academic classroom, now as part of the complex college admissions process. For more information, please contact us

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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