A College Essay that Works

A College Essay that Works

by Brave Writer student, Adrian
Written for our College Admissions Essay class

I sat on my bed with my laptop, watching my mouse hover over a bright orange checkout button. This virtual shopping cart was not simply holding a book or phone charger. My cart contained every cent I had in the form of computer parts. “I should just wait a little longer for a dell computer. They are more expensive, but there is no chance for me to break it.” Despite this reasoning, I would not let my nerves sway me, so I ignored the knots in my stomach and clicked.

I had wanted to build a desktop for over a year. At first, I planned on ordering a brand name desktop online, but while looking at reviews I saw an article titled “Building Your Desktop!” Building a desktop would cost less and perform better than name brand products. The one glaring issue however was that, if I messed up, I wouldn’t be able to call anyone to help. I was responsible for picking the right hardware and fixing any issues.

But I had decided to go through with it. I saved up my money, mowing lawns, working at a kennel, and collecting coins. Once I had enough I ordered the parts I needed. Waiting them to ship was like counting threads on a shirt, but I won’t forget the day they finally arrived. It was a late Thursday afternoon and it was pouring rain. My brother texted me at work to say, “IT’S HERE!!”

When I arrived home, I found two large boxes covered in a clear plastic sheet, speckled with rain. The first box contained my large and hefty case: a black tower with a glass side. The second box had everything else. Nothing was missing or damaged and my unease immediately lifted. I slept thinking about tomorrow’s exciting task.

The next morning I carried everything downstairs to my basement. It was cold and slightly damp from yesterday’s storm, but it was the perfect place to work. My father had not built a computer since people went to grab a coffee while they’re computer booted up, so he was as excited as I was. Once everything was out of its packaging and I had stripped to my boxers (more traditional than practical) I began. Everything was going smoothly. Although, there were two moments where everything seemed to have been ruined.

My first dilemma took place during the homestretch. Everything was put together and the days’ work was coming to a close. I was pushing my memory card into its slot, but it was being very difficult. I pushed as hard as I dared, watching the motherboard bend to a gut wrenching extent. I was just about to stop when I heard an ear-splitting crack. I looked up at my father who was staring at the computer wide eyed. “What…What was that?” he said. I knew it was the motherboard. An entire day’s effort ruined and several weeks of waiting seemed inevitable, but by the grace of the universe my motherboard was unharmed. A loose bolt had simply shot out of its hole. I had never felt so sick to my stomach before finding the bolt. The final hurdle occurred after everything had been put together. The operating system would not load. I spent an entire day uninstalling, reinstalling, repairing and troubleshooting. I finally tried returning my hard drive. Three days later I was sent a new one and my computer ran like a dream.

Even a year later my computer (The_Bull) runs like new. Since that day I have convinced several of my friends and my brother to build their own desktops and have helped them along the way. Everything from picking a case to putting into their rooms. I even helped a few friends back in India. I love working with computers and helping other people enjoy them. I want to help them click that bright orange button.

Brave Writer's College Admission Essay Online Class

Summer Camp Brave Writer Style!

Summer Camp Brave Writer Style

Join me for our first ever
Summer Camp Brave Writer Style!

August 1-2, 2017


We’ll host two days of wall-to-wall FREE live online webinars hosted by me and two other powerhouse homeschool speakers. Sign up for FREE, bring your own beverage, look out the window at an outdoorsy view, and get all the help you need to kick off the school year with a bang. What do you think?

We’re including a slew of fun PRIZES for participants and we’ll sing a camp song at the start of our sessions (ha!).

  • The webinars are hosted through our Zoom platform (easy to use).
  • Each session is offered twice (at different times on each of the days).
  • You only need to attend one of the two identical sessions in each category.
  • We only have space for 500 people per session; pick the sessions that work with your schedule.
  • There will be NO replays. All participation has to be live. Camp is not a recorded experience—it’s a live one!

Here is the Schedule (all times are Eastern Daylight Savings Time):

Tuesday, August 1

10am – The Writer’s Jungle: How to implement it this fall! with Julie Bogart
2pm – Online Classes Q & A with Kirsten Merryman
4pm – Brave Writer Living for Multiple Ages with Julie Brave
7pm – Learning Challenges with Rita Cevasco

Wednesday, August 2

10am – Brave Writer Living for Multiple Ages with Julie Brave
2pm – Learning Challenges with Rita Cevasco
4pm – Online Classes Q & A with Kirsten Merryman
7pm – The Writer’s Jungle: How to implement it this fall! with Julie Bogart

Sign Up Here

The Next Time You Feel Overwhelmed


by Stephanie Elms

When we feel off kilter and have a lot of things going on that are out of our control, our natural instinct is to double down on things that we feel that we can control. For many of us, that often winds up being our kids. Of course, the idea that we truly control our kids is simply an illusion, although it feels very real.

Our kids can sense this. Both our disappointment in them and our expectation that their behavior is needed to fill a need we have. Some kids react by becoming more compliant. Some by becoming more resistant. Both are natural defense mechanisms.

When we are overwhelmed, we become fixated on “what needs to be fixed” regardless of whether it makes sense or not. We worry about things like our kids’ “work ethic” or “lack of motivation” when the reality is that their work ethic and motivation are developed over the long term and have crucial developmental components to it.

Kids naturally live more “in the moment” and just don’t have the bigger picture vantage that comes with maturity and experience. The good thing is that maturity and experience develop naturally. It is not dependent on us to “make” it happen. We can trust and allow it to unfold with our guidance.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed, trust that your worry about your kids may be less about how they are truly doing in that moment and more about your own state of mind.

In these times, it is okay to let go of what you feel you have to do to “fix” things and simply focus on the reality of who your kids are.

Connect with them.

Have fun with them.

Enjoy them.

The rest will sort itself out. Honest.

Stephanie Elms has homeschooled her two boys for ten+ years and is a coach for Brave Writer’s The Homeschool Alliance. She blogs at Throwing Marshmallows.

The Homeschool Alliance

Friday Freewrite: Superhero Breakfast

Friday Freewrite: Superhero Breakfast

You wake up and everyone in your family is now a superhero. Describe what breakfast might be like!

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

How I Found My Writing Voice

Finding Your Writing Voice

by Brave Writer student, Finlay Worrallo

What does it mean to find your “writer’s voice”?

Different writers write in different ways. Some use short, snappy sentences, using only a few adjectives; others write in a great torrent of colour, using all five senses. Some write as though they’re chatting away to an old friend; others write like they’re addressing an audience. The particular way a writer chooses words, puts sentences together, and expresses ideas to the reader is known as their writing voice.

When I was younger, I spent a long time finding my writing voice, and most of that time was spent copying my favourite writers. I wanted to write wild fantasy stories, so I looked at my literary heroes and followed their examples. So I wrote about bears named after places (like Paddington Bear). I wrote about a flat planet on the back of a giant turtle (like The Discworld). I even wrote about a school of witchcraft and wizardry (can you guess what I was reading at the time?).

A lot of my earlier stuff is…a bit embarrassing to look back on, but it was an important part of my development as a writer and helped me find the voice I wanted to use—colourful, humourous, informal and (I hope) easy to read. Nowadays, I write more than just short stories, but my poetry, articles, and fiction all have that underlying writer’s voice.

If you haven’t isolated your writer’s voice yet, it’s worth doing. It will give you more confidence, will make your work more distinct, and will generally make writing more fun.

Here are some tips you might try:


Pay particular attention to the voices of your favourite writers. What sort of voice do you like to read? Do you enjoy lots of jokes? Do you prefer long or short passages of description? Do you like being personally addressed by the writer or do you find this distracting?

Bear this in mind when you’re writing. The voices you enjoy reading will often inform the ones you produce. For example, I love reading beautiful descriptions, clever jokes and unexpected twists, all of which I at least try to achieve in my own work. Not sure how often I succeed.


It might sound counter-productive but if you’re still discovering how you work as a writer, there’s nothing wrong with noting how other writers do it and then trying out their voices to see how they feel for you.


If you always use long sentences, write a page where you only use sentences of nine words or less. If you usually write comedy, write with no jokes at all—or use a lot more if you tend to write more seriously. It’s through trying out different approaches that you discover what works best for you.

Pay Attention

Make a conscious effort to notice the voice you adopt when writing. Do you sprinkle adjectives liberally or use them sparingly? How many senses do you normally use? Do you use much slang and informal language?

The more you write and experiment, the more confident your voice will become. You’ll be able to isolate exactly what you want to say, and how you want to say it. But if it takes you a while to find your voice, don’t worry. Some writers don’t like the idea of “finding your voice” at all because it’s a process.

My writing voice changes just as much as my speaking one. New styles and verbal tics surface and take the place of old ones. I find myself using more dialogue than in the past, when I preferred writing description. And I’m sure my writing voice will continue to evolve. Maybe in ten years time I’ll look back at the way I write now and wince, just like I look back at my younger self and wince at the adventures of a bear found at Wembley Stadium.

If you love writing, and keep on doing it, you’ll create the voice that’s perfect for you sooner or later. Write as much as you can and explore all the unexpected paths you find yourself on.

Do Formats Hush the Writing Voice?