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What are Hermit Crab Essays?

Hermit crab essays use interesting, everyday forms of writing to tell your story. For example, you can use the format of a board game, medication label, nutrition facts, and so much more!

 The Writing Addict uses the hermit crab metaphor to describe this kind of essay. The shell is like the container or format you will fill in with related experiences.

This form of writing was something that my Advanced Creative Nonfiction class toyed around with. We had to choose the format and use its particular features to convey a story. After brainstorming with one of my friends about the different “found forms” (formats) there are, I decided to use a rubric for my essay.

After choosing the rubric, I decided to make it about adulting. My roommate recently shared some TikToks with me about adulting and how you really don’t get a “grade” for it. We have been seasoned to base our achievements and progress off of grades. So, I played with that idea and made different sections with different points for parts of college life: cleaning, meal planning, organization, social life and more. It was a great experience being able to experiment with a new form of writing.

If you are stuck in a rut with your writing life or maybe you want to try something new, hermit crab essays are a great start to get your creative juices flowing.

Also, if you are interested in reading more about hermit crab essays, my professor used the book Tell It, Slant by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola as a resource.

Emily is excited to be a part of the Akron chapter of Her Campus. She is majoring in English and minoring in Converged Media Studies. She is also working toward a Certificate in Professional Social Media. Emily enjoys drinking tea, decorating, and spending time with her family. Her favorite motto / quote to live by is Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
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