When soda stays out for too long… it loses a crucial, crucial component. The FIZZ. It may taste the same, but the experience is F L A T.
Essays are the same way. The fresher your voice, the greater the fizz factor. Fizz is key. If your essays bore the reader, chances are, you’re boring in real life. No one wants a boring kid on their campus. These schools want explosions between new entrants, like volatile chemicals that mix together and create fireworks.
Step 1 – You need to stand out and be memorable. Now, not everyone has memorable experiences. Not everyone has military experience, or has saved starving villages, or started up Facebook. In fact, the majority of experiences out there come out in the wash. But if everyone were a rockstar to begin with, why bother with an MBA? The MBA is meant to enable future greatness. Based on what? Potential. So, focus not on making your story seem like it’s the only one of its kind as your ticket to “standing out.” Instead, recognize that however common your experience may seem, no one could ever describe YOUR PARTICULAR experience… like you. After all, you experienced it, not them. The tastes, the smells, the fears, the cockiness, the slaps in the face, the fools-gold moments, the quiet moments of terror, the concerns, the weighing of A versus B, the wondering if Tactic A woud work better than B, the play by play. Channel the visceral aspects of it. If you do that, you can’t HELP but stand out.
Step 2 – Make sure you have the fizz. You want your essays to BURN as they goes down. The surest way to guarantee a flat essay is to lose yourself in detail. More attitude, less boring, jargon-infested detail (not to be confused with “specificity” … there will surely be an upcoming post on THAT distinction). Fizz is tough to produce. Try to be surprising. Try to write energetically. You can spend all the time in the world EDITING and REWRITING. And that’s the time to be measured and cautious and careful about language and wording and structure and all that. But initially, you need to create a lot of potential energy inside your belly, get fired up about your topic, and then let your fingers FLY. Energy almost always = fizz.
I highly recommend throwing down your first drafts in a very particular way: QUICKLY. Find a distraction-free environment, give yourself a block of time, and go nuts. The more energy you transfer to the page on that initial pass, the better off you’ll be. It’s super easy to snip and tighten and tweak. But it’s darn hard to IMBUE an essay with passion down the road, if it’s not on the page to begin with.
Hunker down, and let her RIP.