The Voice – Writing Style

Whenever I used to get proposed a question about who I am as a writer or what I think my voice is in my works, I never quite knew how to answer. As corny as this response is, I often deflected the answer by providing a simile to the (somewhat) popular TV Show, “The Voice.” I argued that I wrote to please, I wrote to perform, and I wrote to satisfy whatever prompt or end goal I had been given or created. Most of the time, however, how my voice ended up sounding was often a mystery, and I didn’t really know what I was going to get until I hit that bright red button and spun my chair around at the end of the piece. It wasn’t until this prompt that I realized how relevant this analogy is, even though I think it’s more appropriate to use it in a different way.

While growing up, I wrote a lot of poetry. Especially while going through my angsty middle school phase, most of them ended up being about teenage rebellion and self-defined “emo” topics. My voice was raw, but so passionate about what I was covering as it was my own form of “self expression” that helped me get through the unbearable stages of puberty. Then came the formal writing classes in late junior high years where I learned the essence of what it meant to create a “five paragraph essay.” Back then it was more like a two paragraph summary where the writer got a little too excited with the enter button, but it helped establish a basis of my voice that I hadn’t quite heard before. I developed an internal monotone narration of what I was writing and I experimented with using fancy new words. I focused on really tweaking that voice and finding what ways it sounded best in my head, and to this day still hear it when I participate in formal writing assignments. Next came the creative writing. Freshman year of college I took Political Science 101, where we had to do multiple blog posts throughout the semester. These blog posts really challenged my creativity and forced me to make fun and captivating posts for a certain audience. This creativity brought out another new voice, one of sarcasm and wit, but also one of humor and informality.

It seems odd to me that I can have all of these different voices in my writings, but I find it hard to maintain a consistent voice throughout them all. If one were to read a formal essay of mine and then read a creative narrative, they would not be able to tell that both were written by me. There may be small similarities I suppose, but the overarching tone and voice behind each piece would be drastically different. This is where the new analogy comes in. It’s like if a country singer comes on stage on The Voice, will Blake Shelton turn his chair around? That answer will be yes almost 100% of the time. Blake Shelton goes with country. Formal essays go with my monotone, trying-too-hard-to-sound-intelligent voice. Creative writing goes with my witty, informal, upbeat voice. Poetry goes with my serious, normally depressing voice. Throughout the years I have somehow been able to develop different voices for what I am doing, almost like this formula of what judge will turn around based on the genre of song that is performed.

I can see how other students may have this same thing happen to them in variation, but when asked what my voice is, this is the most appropriate model I can come up with to describe mine. I struggle trying to think of how I sound across all types of writing, because I don’t think I have really established a solidified voice that doesn’t get molded or shaped by what assignment I’m prompted with. It’s as if I can only get only chair to turn around for me at a time, and I need to find a way to get all four to respond to what voice I bring to the table. Perhaps in time I’ll acquire a voice that stays consistent with all my writing endeavors, as my voice has already adapted and changed over time so much. Maybe then I could change my analogy to something more interesting like the Bachelorette – one voice for multiple types of writing, one woman for multiple types of men.

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