This I Believe

May 21, 2014  Prompt #21

DSCN5024Perhaps you’ve heard This I Believe essays on NPR or Bob Edwards Weekend. This I Believe is now an international organization that encourages people to write about their core values. You can read and listen to hundreds of these essays on their website.

For today’s prompt, you’ll write (or begin to write) your own “This I Believe”  essay. This exercise not only gives you the opportunity to think about the beliefs that guide you, but it also prompts you to shape your thoughts into a well-crafted work.


  1. Go to the This I Believe website and read or listen to 2 or more essays. Click here to link to an essay I wrote ten years ago.
  2. For three minutes, free write words and phrases that come to mind when you think about what matters to you. For example,  you might write Traveling widely, Choosing kindness, Being unpredictable, or Surrounding myself with family and friends.
  3. Next, for five minutes, think about concrete examples of these core beliefs. Don’t be afraid of making odd connections; in fact, sometimes, the odder the better.  “I believe in power of balloon animals” could be the perfect lead in for writing about kindness. Or, if you believe in surrounding yourself with friends and family, consider actions that demonstrate this.  You might write, “I believe in celebrating birthdays — with 100 of my closest friends and relatives.” Or, “I believe in Family Reunions.”
  4. Finally, writing for fifteen more minutes, flesh out your ideas. Experiment, expand, and shape your story.


  • Bring together the conceptual and concrete. Use specifics to ground your essay, yet don’t be afraid to celebrate or uphold your beliefs with heartfelt or even noble language.
  • Try different tones: playful, earnest, contemplative.

Tomorrow’s Post: Suggestions for “Further Writing” and “Variations for Writing Groups.”

Thoughts on this writing prompt?


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