Senior year of high school I was paired with a student to peer edit our papers and to be completely candid, he was a terrible writer. With grammatical errors that I probably haven’t made since fifth grade, with no organization and no sense of self, it was actually painful to edit. But what really confused me was why. He spoke perfectly fine in real life, he even wrote rap lyrics which were surprisingly good. I always wondered why he couldn’t just write the way he colloquially spoke, because that’s what I always did.
In my own writing if I’m given the creative license I really love to be casual and build myself as a personality for the reader to hang out with rather than an anonymous robot behind some text. I know that this is the voice that I seek out as a reader on platforms like Buzzfeed so naturally it’s the kind that I try to write in too. And conveniently the topic that I’m most drawn to writing about, anything relating to media, is conducive to this kind of voice.Whenever I get one of those pick-your-own-topic-but-follow-this-rubric assignments I always resort to to pop culture, social media, television, music or something of that sort. I feel like this is the only topic that I 1) have enough personal knowledge on to make the writing less forced; 2) have enough interest in to spend more than a few hours with; or 3) even know how to write about. I have conditioned myself to only write about media and entertainment topics that now trying to write write a paper on anything else can lead to me re-writing the entire thing the night before because I realized my original topic wasn’t working. In terms of formal markers in my writing, I often like to start papers really broad or philosophical before narrowing in to exactly what the paper is on.
How did I acquire my voice? I don’t know, it’s just my voice. I don’t see it as an extension of myself, as another persona, an outlet to be the “real me” or however else people often like to describe it. Of course I didn’t have the same writing style in my third grade paper on Eleanor Roosevelt, my Bat Mitzvah speech, my Common App for college or even my final paper for an AMCULT class just last semester. Partially because each assignment inevitably has its own tone and requirements, but also because life is always happening and things are always changing. There isn’t one definitive a-hah moment where I found my voice because it was always there just evolving. In 10 years when I’m writing something important for a job my voice will be different than it is now. I don’t think it’s fair to limit myself as a writer to “my voice” only.