I’ve always preferred to do my communication through writing rather than speaking (my thoughts are fast and plenty and my mouth too slow). My writing isn’t quite like how I speak–like most, I’m definitely more formal and fancy in writing–but I realized that I read what I write as I write it. This makes it so that I almost exclusively use contractions in my writing, even though I know it’s more proper to separate the “it” and “is”.

It seems I’ve been committing this grammatical crime for quite a long time now. As I skim through my old pieces of writing, I feel my voice, but it’s difficult to identify–in other words, I’m not sure how to define my voice other than to define the structures that make up my voice. So here they are:

  1. I’m never totally formal. (And I like contractions).
  2. I find it hard to make my sentences flow without using transition words and phrases like “so,” “and,” or “but” even though I know I shouldn’t.
  3. Sentence fragments.
  4. But I also like longer sentences, sentences that sound dynamic and musical; the semi-colon–and the dash–are my friends.
  5. I like to use the rule of three.
  6. I like metaphors and other rhetorical devices.
  7. I like to add subtle bits of humor here and there if the prompt allows.
  8. And sometimes I’m really dark and sad and sappy (cliche?).
  9. My favorite topic to write about by far is intersectional social identity, especially the microaggressions surround it and its representation in the media.
  10. And my other favorite topic is anything about myself.

For some of these I can identify exactly when they became a part of my voice: I learned many rhetorical devices and started reading more sophisticated essays in my AP Language and Composition class my junior year of high school; as a slightly embarrassing confession, I started writing dark prose after reading a lot of it on Tumblr; I learned to identify and articulate social injustice in college. My personality has always been mildly sarcastic and playful, and my speech and writing never formal. However, I seem to have developed many of my formal aspects more gradually, most likely from copying the authors I read and applying the rules I learned in school. It’s interesting how we can pick up things without us even noticing until we take a step back and actively reflect on it, and still it’s hard to label your voice with specific and appropriate adjectives…

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