Challenge Journal 1: Finding My Voice

The biggest challenge I’m facing with my capstone is how much of my own personal voice to include. My project is heavily researched based, and it could turn into a research heavy, academic (boring) paper very quickly. The purpose of my capstone is to inform my audience about the drawbacks and shortcomings of cause marketing, mostly from a financial standpoint. As a result, there are a lot of numbers involved, plus some general background information that I feel is necessary since a lot of people don’t know much about the topic. The research is necessary for my paper, and there’s no way I could write the paper without it. But what I definitely don’t want to happen is have my capstone turn into a standard research paper that’s just straight prose divided into an intro, lit review, discussion, etc.

The obvious solution here would be to just add in personal voice to not make the paper so academic-y, but I have two concerns with this. First, I don’t want to take away from the importance of the topic. I don’t want to sound too self righteous, but I feel like my capstone is an important topic that I want to be taken seriously, and I don’t want to take away from that by making it sound too informal. Second, I don’t want it to come off as though I am trying to guilt people into liking my project. Part of why I picked this topic is because of it’s personal relevance to me from when my mom was sick, but I don’t want that to come across as though I am just looking for sympathy.

In my Why I Write Essay for the gateway, I briefly touched on my mom having cancer, but I feel like that was a bit different because that essay is inherently personal so using a lot of voice was king of the point. In that essay I spoke about how I am a pretty shy person and how I had never told many people I know IRL about my mom being sick, but writing about it was fairly easy for me. I even said in that essay that

“it is so much easier for me to convey my thoughts and personality in writing”

and that

“papers where I used more of a personal voice as opposed to academic papers were the ones I did the best on, but I also felt as though I was communicating with my teachers much better that way than I ever would be able to face to face. I’ve always said that my voice is one of my biggest strengths in my writing. When I’m not doing formal research based papers, I feel like I do a pretty good job of incorporating my personality into the paper (or at least I hope I do, because I have spent a lot of time claiming to do so)”

Oh the irony. Three semesters later, in my last writing minor class, I am struggling to find my voice. Or maybe finding my voice isn’t the problem. I have my voice, I’m just not sure if I should use it. I don’t want it to a be a cry fest, and I certainly don’t want readers to feel as though they are being guilted into agreeing with me (like “oh, her mom had cancer, I have to agree with what she’s saying”) So yeah…that’s where I’m at, trying to strike a balance between personal and impersonal, but not really having much luck negotiating that.


One thought to “Challenge Journal 1: Finding My Voice”

  1. Hi Katherine!
    I’m having a similar problem trying to figure out how much of my own voice/experiences/perspective to include in my project. This challenge is most difficult, since it can feel like writing about yourself might make people take your arguments less seriously. It seems as if the more distance you put between yourself and a professional piece (i.e. academic papers), the more legitimate it is. Diamond (one of the projects we looked at in class) had the same problem as us. And even after discussing her work and the opportunity to add more personal perspective, I’m not fully confident in how much I want to put myself into my writing. However, I do think that candor can add a lot of value to a piece. So while we’re writing our professional content, I think we need to keep our audiences in mind and anticipate the questions they might have about the writer. That way, we can address the audience in a personal, honest manner. By disclosing those personal perspectives, I think that our audience’s will trust us more.

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