From 1951-1955, Edward R. Murrow hosted This I Believe, a daily radio program that reached 39 million listeners. On this broadcast, Americans—both well known and unknown—read five-minute essays about their personal philosophy of life. They shared insights about individual values that shaped their daily actions. The first volume of This I Believe essays, published in 1952, sold 300,000 copies—more than any other book in the U.S. during that year except for the Bible. In fact, these Murrow broadcasts were so popular that curriculum was even developed to encourage American participation in schools.

Assignment: For this essay, you will write a personal or familiar essay in which you explain something you believe in. In the essay, you will tell a story of recognizing that belief and discuss the role the belief plays in your life. Ideas that you should keep in mind:

Style:   A personal or familiar essay should be written in your voice and from your perspective. While you are watching your

            grammar more carefully than you might in everyday writing, you are still writing as you.

  • Do not use words that are not natural to you.
  • Do not use the personal pronoun you. Instead, use I / me / my when referring to your own experience, or we / us / our when extending that to society as a whole.
  • When appropriate, use specific nouns: i.e. women, men, student, teachers, teens, dragons, etc.

Purpose:  The purpose of this essay is simply to explain your belief.

  • Do not try to convince or preach to your readers. Simply explain what it is believe and why you believe it is important.

Audience: The audience for this essay is a general audience. Think of this as simply talking to your friends, family, or peers.

Limitations: You may not choose to write about God, family, or friends as the topic of your essay. You may use those as

            examples in the essay, but they cannot be the topic.

Prewriting:_________________________________________________________________________________________

Prewriting assignments allow you a place to get ideas together. 

General Requirements:

Do not write about God, Family, or Friends.  While most of us believe in most of these things, I’ve read too many essays on those topics, and I’m challenging you to be more creative with this. You may use any of those as examples of your belief, but they cannot be the topic.

Prewriting Assignment 1

Begin finding your topic by making a list of things you believe are important and writing a brief discussion of each.

Narrow your ideas down and be specific. For example, do not just say, “I believe in partying all the time.”  What is it about that that you believe? Letting go of stress? Having fun with friends?  Bringing out your inner kid? Discuss the specific ideas.

You should have at least three beliefs and each should have a paragraph explaining what it is.

Rough Draft Step 1

Now, it’s time to decide which of the beliefs you explored in Prewriting Assignment 1 you will write about.  Once you chose one, think of a time when you realized how important this idea is. Write the story of that moment.  Work to thoroughly create a feeling for and picture of that moment.  Use dialogue and description to do this. Refer to the handbook section on using quotation marks for the rules on how to write and format dialogue. You should develop at least

2-3 well-developed paragraphs for this assignment.

Rough Draft Step 2

Finally, it’s time to fully explain why this belief is so important. You may use some of what you wrote in Prewriting Assignment 1 to get you started. Here are some things you may talk about. You do not have to write about all of them. You should develop 2-3 paragraphs for this assignment.

Why does this belief make your life or anyone’s life better? Why is your life or anyone else’s life less without this?

How does this make our world, society, or community better, fuller, or richer? How does this solve a problem we face in our daily journey through life?

Final Rough Draft:

Begin work on putting this essay together by reviewing your prewritings, especially Rough draft 1 and 2, and consider them in the context of the samples we’ve read and the discussion we’ve had about this essay and this type of writing. Use your prewritings as a start to your essay. Remember, your goal is to explain what you believe. You are not supposed to try to convince others to believe it too, just explain what it is you believe and why you believe it using your story or stories (narrative/s) to support your points.  You may need to add to or omit things from your prewriting, and you may decide to take a very different path. It’s all okay.

This essay is a personal or familiar essay. As such, you need to be writing in your voice and you need to use the personal pronouns I/me/my. Avoid the use of the pronoun you.  If you want to extend your points outside of yourself, use the collective we, or the specific group: young people, students, Americans, women, men, etc.

General Requirements

Do not write about God, Family, or Friends.  While most of us believe in most of these things, I’ve read too many essays on those topics, and I’m challenging you to be more creative with this. You may use any of those as examples of your belief, but they cannot be the topic.

Your work should:

Be written in Times New Roman 12-point font and have 1-inch margins. Your essay should be at least 3 double spaced pages long.

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