It’s a little mind boggling to me to realize that this is the first time that I’ve ever considered my voice as a writer. This question stumped me so much that I decided to contemplate it out loud and record my thoughts as a voice memo in my phone – a strategy I’ve never used before. What I’ve written below is a heavily edited version of that recording, leading me to realize that my voice as a writer is nowhere close to my voice as a casual speaker. Anyway, here you go:
Looking back at papers and articles I’ve written in the past, it could be fair to say that I don’t have much of a distinct voice. My writing has been wholly shaped by my academic life – with the goal of always producing clear, well-developed, and targeted responses to whatever prompt I am facing. While I could fairly say that this has resulted in academically considered well-written and “tasteful” pieces, there’s nothing stylistic about my writing, in my mind at least, that I think one could point to and think – “yep, that’s Shay.” Instead of drawing attention to my writing style, I always thought what I wrote about mattered more. As long as I am able to get my point across to the reader and tell the story I want to tell, I’ve accomplished my goal. Having said that, I do love to be descriptive when I have the opportunity to do so. I enjoy the challenge of conveying my felt experience through my writing to invoke similar feelings in the reader, without being cliché.
A major piece of my writing background, especially in terms of choosing what I want to write about myself, is print journalism. So while I did have more freedom with content and style, there were still certain conventions that I had to follow with my writing. The goal of journalism is to get one’s point across as clearly, and even more importantly, as efficiently as possible. In terms of composition, this has led to me often stripping down my writing to its bare bones, only including what is necessary. This contributed to my traditional direct and no bullshit personality of voice, which coincidentally aligns with my own personality. The way I structure my writing is representative of my practical way of thinking.
When I can write about whatever I want, I always write about what I know. I try to look at my own experiences and write about what I observe around me. Sometimes I like to extrapolate a bit to address a broader issue, but not too much because I try not to generalize. I hate to generalize. That’s one of my pet peeves actually – when I mistakenly make a generalization without the intent to do so for a directed purpose.
I actually think my voice as a writer is heavily influenced by the performance piece. I tend to write in a heightened sense of speech, where as I think that if I delivered this out loud it would sound great, and learned, and smart… but not necessarily interesting… or unique. When I write it feels like my thoughts flow more freely, probably because I have more time to think. I also know that when I’m writing there is always the option of dragging my pinky across the backspace key, or flipping my pencil around to the eraser, or even just scratching something out if I don’t like it. If I say something to someone, it’s hard to take back. I guess a lot of my voice has been developed in order to give people what I think they want to hear, or read. That’s a mindset that I hope to use this class to help me escape from – by being brutally honest about who I am and what I want to say.