How to Write a Laws of Life Essay

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How to Write a Laws of Life Essay

  • Presented by
  • Linda Williams
  • ILT, Camden High

Laws of Life Essay

  • Class assignment: Write a Laws of Life essay
  • Remember Socrates’ words: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
  • The purpose of a Laws of Life essay is to reflect on a truth about life that you have learned.
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Steps for Writing

  • Tip 1: Think about a personal experience that taught you a truth of life.
    • This doesn’t need to be an earth-shattering event — but it should be an event that taught you something — a truth or lesson which you have continued to live by.
  • 3

Steps for Writing

  • Tip 2:
  • Get specific
    • The best essays describe one specific situation that was a turning point in the individual’s thinking.
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Steps for Writing

  • Specifics you should include:
    • Details you remember vividly – smells, sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings
    • Direct quotes – words you and others actually said at the time (reconstruct if your memory isn’t perfect)
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Steps for Writing

  • Tip 3
  • Find a maxim
    • Choose a saying that immediately rings true for you. Choose one that is the logical lesson from the life event you discuss. You can search for an appropriate maxim based on the topic of your life lesson . . . Honesty, faith, charity, etc.
  • 6

What is a maxim?

  • A maxim is a wise or “pithy” saying that contains words of truth or lasting meaning.
  • Certain sayings you’ll read just make great sense to you immediately—and this is the sort of maxim you want.
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Choosing a maxim

  • Some maxims deal with love and friendship:
  • “It is better to love than be loved.”
  • St. Francis
  • “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
  • Matthew 19:19
  • (The Golden Rule)
  • “Love conquers all things.” Virgil
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Some Maxims Deal with Determination & Persistence

  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
      • -- William Hickson
  • “By asserting our will, many a closed door will open before us.”
  • -- Seyyed Hossein Nasr
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More Maxims on Effort

  • “Failing to plan is planning
  • to fail.”
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • “It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.”
  • Motto of the Christophers
  • “What the mind can conceive, it
  • can achieve.”
  • Anonymous
  • 10

Other Maxims Discuss Courage and Integrity

  • “I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him.”
  • Booker T. Washington
  • “You cannot discover new oceans until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
  • Anonymous
  • “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.”
  • Eldridge Cleaver
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Find the Right Maxim

  • Your teacher will give you a handout with maxims on it.
  • Research and find more maxims on these web sites:
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Other Sources for Maxims

  • Some books are excellent sources of maxims:
  • Bartlett’s Book of Familiar Quotations
  • Chicken Soup Book Series
  • Aesop’s Fables
  • Try also thinking of --
  • Grandparents’ maxims or favorite sayings
  • Favorite stories, proverbs, Bible parables, or sermons
  • 13

Checklist for Laws of Life Essay

  • Based on a personal experience
  • Contains details of the event – sights, sounds, tastes, touches, smells
  • Uses direct quotes of key characters’ comments
  • Includes a maxim
  • 500 words-700 words – at least 1 ½ - 2 pages typed, double-spaced
  • Cover sheet with your name -- Don’t put your name on the essay itself.
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Meet Ivy Merck

  • 15
  • Camden County’s
  • First Runner-Up,
  • State of Georgia
  • Ivy Merck, sophomore during the 2003-2004 school year, placed second in the state and won $1000 for her essay on this maxim: “A brook would lose its song if God removed the rocks.”

Excerpts from Ivy’s Essay . . .

  • 15
  • “A brook would lose its song if God removed the rocks. . . The ‘rocks’ we face every day prepare us for struggles we may face later in life. They help to form our ‘song,’ or character.
  • . . . This past year was difficult for my family. With my dad’s salary, my brother and my mother in college, and my mother unable to get a job, we were having some financial problems.
  • . . . ‘When Mom gets a job’ became a universal motto in our home when something was needed . . . Throughout the year, I grew immensely in character and maturity . . . The ‘rocks we met during the course of the year pulled my family closer to each other and taught us to work together.”

Some Excerpts from Other Winning Essays

  • Grand prizewinner
  • for Georgia, 2003 –
  • Mark Seymour
  • Mark’s essay explains how he learned the truth of the maxim “Discipline is the key to success.”
  • Upon transferring to a private military academy, Mark had a lot of adjustments:
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Mark Seymour writes . . .

  • “Reluctantly, I said my goodbyes to my family, and I was left alone in this new unfamiliar place. Scared and confused, I was escorted back to my dorm where two senior officers stood waiting for my arrival. Not knowing who they were, I walked in, puffed out my chest, and told them to get out of my room. This was my first lesson in respect. After being what I like to call barked at to the point of embarrassment, I did my pushups.”
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Some Excerpts from Winning Essays

  • Second-place prizewinner, 2003, for Georgia –
  • Dominique Fears
  • Dominique Fears grew up in a home where her parents sold drugs. Read an excerpt from her state second-prize essay:
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Excerpt from Second-Place Prizewinning Essay

  • “As far back as I can remember, growing up was repulsive. Often I watched drug deals being completed right in my own home. I knew that my parents used the money for drug sales to feed and clothe my sister and me. We moved around a lot in order to keep the police off of our trail, but that did not hinder me from making good grades in school. I began reading books to escape the day-to-day frustrations of instability . . .”
  • Dominique learned that even though she was growing up in a place where “dreams are deferred,” she could still ‘beat the odds.’ ”
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