The tagline at Westin hotels is that they strive to surprise and delight their guests. This is exactly what a college essay should do.
Every writer dreams of having a backyard cottage, similar to Dahl's 'writing hut'. English cottages and charming huts might seem out of reach, but a good carpenter could build a modest cottage on the cheap.
The smartest thing I ever did as a writer was hire a retired conservation agent to blaze a hiking trail for me. It's nothing fancy — just a narrow path that meanders for a little over a mile through the woods near my home. But that trail through the trees has become my therapist, my personal trainer, and my best editor.
During the holiday season, it's easy to forget that sometimes the best gift of all is simply the gift of time. I can't think of anything a writer would appreciate more than being given time and space to work.
Our job as friends, mentors, parents, and writing coaches is not to write anyone's college essay. That's cheating. Plus, it sends a discouraging message to the teenager that he or she can't be trusted with this important assignment. Trust the student to write the essay, but verify that it gets done. Gentle editing and proofreading are allowed.
I like that there's no love as fierce as the love you feel for your family; that there's no one you feel more protective of than the very same people who can drive you crazy.