this i believe 1

Write 800-1000 words analyzing your beliefs about your life and the world as it pertains to you. Your essay should express one (or more) personal belief or philosophy that you hold and you need to support it with examples.

This essay is YOURS and is PERSONAL to you and your ideas. That said, please consider the following tips and instructions from the original writing prompt (invitation) that has been used on National Public Radio since the 1950s:

This invites you to make a very great contribution: nothing less than a statement of your personal beliefs, of the values which rule your thought and action.

We know this is a tough job. What we want is so intimate that no one can write it for you. You must write it yourself, in the language most natural to you. We ask you to write in your own words and then record in your own voice. You may even find that it takes a request like this for you to reveal some of your own beliefs to yourself. If you set them down they may become of untold meaning to others.

We would like you to tell not only what you believe, but how you reached your beliefs, and if they have grown, what made them grow. This necessarily must be highly personal. That is what we anticipate and want.

It may help you in formulating your credo if we tell you also what we do not want. We do not want a sermon, religious or lay; we do not want editorializing or sectarianism or ‘finger-pointing.’ We do not even want your views on the American way of life, or democracy or free enterprise. These are important but for another occasion. We want to know what you live by. And we want it in terms of ‘I,’ not the editorial ‘We.’

Although this program is designed to express beliefs, it is not a religious program and is not concerned with any religious form whatever. Most of our guests express belief in a Supreme Being, and set forth the importance to them of that belief. However, that is your decision, since it is your belief which we solicit.

But we do ask you to confine yourself to affirmatives: This means refraining from saying what you do not believe. Your beliefs may well have grown in clarity to you by a process of elimination and rejection, but for our part, we must avoid negative statements lest we become a medium for the criticism of beliefs, which is the very opposite of our purpose.

We are sure the statement we ask from you can have wide and lasting influence. Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent. Your belief, simply and sincerely spoken, is sure to stimulate and help those who hear it. We are confident it will enrich them. May we have your contribution?


Tell a story about you: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events that have shaped your core values. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, 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.

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.

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. We 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.

You will be scored on the following characteristics of your writing:

  1. Thesis Statement—a strong thesis provides a roadmap by stating what the essay will prove.

Thesis statements can be directly stated or implied, but they typically are found in the last sentence of the first paragraph. It needs to be clear and respond to the prompt questions.

  1. Introduction: What kind of introduction did you use?

Mini-story

Background Information

Quotation

Strong Statement

  1. Evidence: Back up your thesis with specific evidence.

Personal Experiences

Experiences of Others

Quotations

Disproving the Opposite

  1. Conclusion: What kind of conclusion did you use?

Circle back

Look to the Future

Figurative Language

Final Example

  1. Transitions: Refer back to your thesis. Keep your essay moving.

These can be simple: In addition, Finally, However, Although, In comparison

They can also be more complex, finding a thread in your introduction that you can weave throughout the essay.

  1. Succinct Writing:

Strong Verbs

Concrete images/specific details

Clear ideas and supporting examples

No clutter or unnecessary wordiness

No clichés or overused/vague sayings

  1. Editing and MLA formatting

Spelling, Punctuation, Capitalization

Complete Sentences and other grammar

Each paragraph is indented (new idea=new paragraph)

Headings, margins, text, and line spacing all according to MLA 8 guidelines ____________________________________________________________________________

Step 1: Review Examples

  1. Popular modern examples that were shared on the radio: https://www.npr.org/series/4538138/this-i-believe
  2. A list examples searchable by theme:

https://thisibelieve.org/search/

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Step 2: Pre-writing Strategies

Brainstorm some ideas. List your personal experiences that you intend to use as evidence below:

Free write: Sit down and just start writing about one or two of your topics. Don’t worry about organization or grammar here. Just write and see what comes out. Find out if you like the topic and have plenty to say about it.

Write a THESIS

Choose the specific belief or philosophies you want to discuss and form a thesis statement. This is the big idea you have for your essay. You can always change and adjust the wording later, but you can’t start organizing your support until you have the idea that you want to write about.

A thesis statement should:

  • Narrow your topic to a central idea—all topic sentences and body paragraphs will develop and support this idea
  • State something specific and significant that coveys your central belief or philosophy; this is your thesis statement.
  • Be important and clear enough that people will not ask “so what?” or “why does this matter?”
  • Be logical, precise, and reasonable
  • Use the first person “I” because this is a personal essay assignment
  • Avoid generalizations and ideas that are too broad or too vague to support with examples (Avoid “always, “never,” everyone,” etc.).

How can you explain your main belief in 1-2 sentences? This is your working thesis. It can be edited and adjusted throughout the writing process.

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Step 3: Outlining your essay ideas and organizing your examples

General outline format for an illustrative essay

The number of paragraphs is always up to you, depending on how you break down your thesis. For each body paragraph, try to include at least two examples that could include short narratives, quotes, paraphrases, or summaries. The expectation that you show your ideas through clear, illustrative examples is what this an illustrative essay.

I. Introduction

A. Hook (not a question, must be important and connect to your topic)

B. Background information (brief explanation of the stereotype and where it’s often found)

C. Thesis statement (Clear statement of your argumentabout changes in language or speaking style)

II. First Body Paragraph

A. Topic sentence (First sub-topic of thesis)

B. Convince us! (reasons/rational)

C. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

D. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

E. Concluding sentence (clearly connect back to thesis and transition to following paragraph)

III. Second Body Paragraph

A. Topic sentence (First sub-topic of thesis)

B. Convince us! (reasons/rational)

C. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

D. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

E. Concluding sentence (clearly connect back to thesis and transition to following paragraph)

IV. Third Body Paragraph

A. Topic sentence (First sub-topic of thesis)

B. Convince us! (reasons/rational)

C. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

D. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

E. Concluding sentence (clearly connect back to thesis and transition to following paragraph)

V. Fourth Body Paragraph

A. Topic sentence (First sub-topic of thesis)

B. Convince us! (reasons/rational)

C. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

D. Specific Example (with clear connection to thesis explained)

E. Concluding sentence (clearly connect back to thesis)

VII. Conclusion (Last chance to really convince the reader of your thesis!)

A. Summarize your support and reasons

B. Restate your thesis statement in a strong way

C. End with strong persuasive rhetoric

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eILPH0H83R0

https://thisibelieve.org/essay/11/

https://thisibelieve.org/essay/2/

https://wvde.state.wv.us/abe/file-cabinet/Core_Sessions/TSIS_Templates.pdf

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