Critique topic + very early first draft

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fpd55
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Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby fpd55 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:45 pm

Hey all, just hoping someone might want to critique my topic and the very early first draft of my PS. It's barely 400 words, so there is more to be added and whatnot -- just wanted to get a few things out of my head and on to the screen first. Any comments are much appreciated.


Swim, bike, run.

I put on my wetsuit, cover my head in a swim cap, make sure my goggles have anti-fog spray and step into the cold water. I think the hundreds of other people around me are asking themselves the same question I am, "Why am I doing this? I could be sleeping; the sun is just rising." I don't have a second to answer before the gun goes off. I wade into the water, trying to make my way through the crowd. I know that if I can stay in the middle of the pack in my heat, I'll be ahead of my personal record, and so I do. My breathing is calm, my legs are kicking and my hands are scooping; I'm doing everything the way I was taught.

A few years ago I would have never imagined I could be a triathlete. A few years ago I would have never thought I could devote hours of my day to training. I have never been more than mediocre at anything; academics, sports. I spent my days wishing I were living another life, wishing I could be a stronger person like every one around me. I had never committed to anything before my triathlon training, but the idea of pushing myself to complete something I wanted so badly took over and it was all I could think about. I had gone through my whole life never believing I could accomplish much, and I needed to change. I needed to start believing I could finish what I started. And so, I did.

Today, I rise before the sun. I pull my arms through the water until it’s all behind me. I run until my quads feel like the lactic acid is going to burn a hole through my skin. I pedal up the climb until all I can see is the descent in front of me. And it’s at the end I know I’m different because of this sport and the community involved in it.

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dominkay
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby dominkay » Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:11 pm

"And it’s at the end I know I’m different"

Do not say this.

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esq
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby esq » Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:18 pm

I'm not sure that you have effectively helped me to understand the amount of personal growth that has occurred because of your struggle to become a triathlete. Good start, but this needs much more insight into what you have to deal with through your sport and how that makes you a stronger person.

fpd55
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby fpd55 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:25 pm

esq wrote:I'm not sure that you have effectively helped me to understand the amount of personal growth that has occurred because of your struggle to become a triathlete. Good start, but this needs much more insight into what you have to deal with through your sport and how that makes you a stronger person.


Thanks. When you say "what you have to deal with through your sport", do you mean flesh out the details of my sport and how I've gone from never fully committing to anything to giving 100%?

maddox86
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby maddox86 » Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:58 pm

fpd55 wrote:Hey all, just hoping someone might want to critique my topic and the very early first draft of my PS. It's barely 400 words, so there is more to be added and whatnot -- just wanted to get a few things out of my head and on to the screen first. Any comments are much appreciated.


Swim, bike, run.

I put on my wetsuit, cover my head in a swim cap, make sure my goggles have anti-fog spray and step into the cold water. I think the hundreds of other people around me are asking themselves the same question I am, "Why am I doing this? I could be sleeping; the sun is just rising." I don't have a second to answer before the gun goes off. I wade into the water, trying to make my way through the crowd. I know that if I can stay in the middle of the pack in my heat, I'll be ahead of my personal record, and so I do. My breathing is calm, my legs are kicking and my hands are scooping; I'm doing everything the way I was taught.

A few years ago I would have never imagined I could be a triathlete. A few years ago I would have never thought I could devote hours of my day to training. I have never been more than mediocre at anything; academics, sports. I spent my days wishing I were living another life, wishing I could be a stronger person like every one around me. I had never committed to anything before my triathlon training, but the idea of pushing myself to complete something I wanted so badly took over and it was all I could think about. I had gone through my whole life never believing I could accomplish much, and I needed to change. I needed to start believing I could finish what I started. And so, I did.

Today, I rise before the sun. I pull my arms through the water until it’s all behind me. I run until my quads feel like the lactic acid is going to burn a hole through my skin. I pedal up the climb until all I can see is the descent in front of me. And it’s at the end I know I’m different because of this sport and the community involved in it.


I think it's a great start, strong metaphor etc.. but you go too much into the "I had gone through my whole life never believing...." I wouldn't spend too much time dwelling on that ..

Also wade is an excellent word!

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esq
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby esq » Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:01 pm

It's just that you said you needed to change and then you abruptly say that you did. One thing had to lead to another in this transformation, what you need to do is explain how one thing led to another. I know if it were me, I would have a hard time motivating myself to become a triathlete. It really would be a transformation. You've opened well enough, now you need to take the transformation that you've hinted at and make that the crux of your main body paragraph - I think that it is probably the most important part to helping the reader understand how you really did end up a triathlete and what kind of inner strength and determination it took to do it.

ps. "What you have to deal with" refers to the training, motivation (initial and continuing), mental grit, etc., that you have to deal with to be a competitor in your sport. So let the reader in on more of your developmental insights, because let's face it, it's just you and your thoughts when your out there competing, nothing akin to other team sports where you enjoy a group experience.

fpd55
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby fpd55 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:49 pm

Thanks, esq. I took a few minutes and added a paragraph, if you have a minute, more comments would be appreciated. I think that paragraph still needs a bit more fleshing out.


Swim, bike, run.

I put on my wetsuit, cover my head in a swim cap, make sure my goggles have anti-fog spray and step into the cold water. I think the hundreds of other people around me are asking themselves the same question I am, "Why am I doing this? I could be sleeping; the sun is just rising." I don't have a second to answer before the gun goes off. I wade into the water, trying to make my way through the crowd. I know that if I can stay in the middle of the pack in my heat, I'll be ahead of my personal record, and so I do. My breathing is calm, my legs are kicking and my hands are scooping; I'm doing everything the way I was taught.

A few years ago I would have never imagined I could be a triathlete. A few years ago I would have never thought I could devote hours of my day to training. I have never been more than mediocre at anything; academics, sports. I spent my days wishing I were living another life, wishing I could be a stronger person like every one around me. I had never committed to anything before my triathlon training, but the idea of pushing myself to complete something I wanted so badly took over and it was all I could think about. I had gone through my whole life never believing I could accomplish much, and I needed to change. I needed to start believing I could finish what I started. And so, I did.

I started my journey slow, a few miles at a time, a few mornings before 5AM. I feel the slick road beneath my wheels, and while it takes everything in me to hammer down ten more miles, this was more than just triathlon training; it was proving to myself I could finish something I started. Some days I wanted to forget it all, I told myself it was a waste of time, and I would never be able to get to the point where I needed to be to hold my own in an Olympic Distance race. But then I remembered all the times I started a project and never completed, all the times I gave up because I was afraid of failure. I had to move on and leave those feelings behind me. I pushed forward every day, a few more miles at a time.

Today, I rise before the sun. I pull my arms through the water until it’s all behind me. I run until my quads feel like the lactic acid is going to burn a hole through my skin. I pedal up the climb until all I can see is the descent in front of me. And it’s at the end I know I’m different because of this sport and the community involved in it.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:17 pm

Why is "Olympic Distance" capitalized ?
This essay is good, but risky since it emphasizes your self-proclaimed mediocracy & repeated failure to finish projects due to your fear of failure (which often has the opposite impact on some leading them to be super-competitive & ultra-successful). Hopefully this is not paired with a mediocre GPA & LSAT score.
The strength of this personal statement is your clarity of thought evidenced by your lucid style of writing.

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romothesavior
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby romothesavior » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:21 pm

Very good, but I'm not sure I like your admission that you've been mediocre your whole life, especially in academics. Try to find a way to make this sound like a big step for you without coming out and saying you are mediocre.

fpd55
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby fpd55 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:02 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Why is "Olympic Distance" capitalized ?
This essay is good, but risky since it emphasizes your self-proclaimed mediocracy & repeated failure to finish projects due to your fear of failure (which often has the opposite impact on some leading them to be super-competitive & ultra-successful). Hopefully this is not paired with a mediocre GPA & LSAT score.
The strength of this personal statement is your clarity of thought evidenced by your lucid style of writing.


Hm, it's paired with a terrible GPA, 168 LSAT (retaking in October). Maybe I should be trying to play down my mediocracy & previous inability to complete projects.

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romothesavior
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby romothesavior » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:05 pm

Try to spin it as a "My willingness to try new things and commit to something new has changed my life" rather than "I am mediocre and this is my first time doing something not mediocre." Adcomms don't want to hear that the most meaningful thing you've ever done is enter a triathlon.

Pretty well written overall, IMO.

fpd55
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby fpd55 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:08 pm

romothesavior wrote:Very good, but I'm not sure I like your admission that you've been mediocre your whole life, especially in academics. Try to find a way to make this sound like a big step for you without coming out and saying you are mediocre.


Yeah, I guess I need to downplay that a bit more. I was obviously trying to show how I went from basically being crippled with fear of failure that I was always bailed on things, to the person I am now, who has a mindset far removed from what it used to be, due to my commitment in training.

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romothesavior
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby romothesavior » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:11 pm

fpd55 wrote:
romothesavior wrote:Very good, but I'm not sure I like your admission that you've been mediocre your whole life, especially in academics. Try to find a way to make this sound like a big step for you without coming out and saying you are mediocre.


Yeah, I guess I need to downplay that a bit more. I was obviously trying to show how I went from basically being crippled with fear of failure that I was always bailed on things, to the person I am now, who has a mindset far removed from what it used to be, due to my commitment in training.


Tinker with that idea until you find something that says what you just told me, but isn't off-putting.

fpd55
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby fpd55 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:11 pm

romothesavior wrote:Try to spin it as a "My willingness to try new things and commit to something new has changed my life" rather than "I am mediocre and this is my first time doing something not mediocre." Adcomms don't want to hear that the most meaningful thing you've ever done is enter a triathlon.

Pretty well written overall, IMO.


I didn't want it come off as triathlons being the most meaningful thing I've done. Instead, I wanted it to really be the dedication and focus that went into the training that really changed me, and is one of the best things I could have ever done for myself.

Thanks, especially for the "pretty well written" -- I'm often too afraid to post a PS draft here, as constructive criticism has never been something I'm good at taking.

fpd55
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Re: Critique topic + very early first draft

Postby fpd55 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 12:52 pm

Any more crit before I attack it again this afternoon?




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