Over the past several years, I have personally experienced and found through talking with others that voice is something that often gets lost in writing. Using your “voice” is what distinguishes your written words from those of hundreds of thousands of other authors.
Why is it that you and a friend choose to write a paper with the same requirements on the same prompt, and your papers look nothing alike? No two people are ever going to write exactly the same way, and this has everything to do with voice.
If everyone wrote in exactly the same voice, reading would not be a joyous activity. So, where do you find your voice? It sounds easy enough. You write in a way that reflects upon your own personality. However, you still have to develop an appropriate voice for your writing. Simply writing the way you would speak does not necessarily work. Your voice must match the type of writing you are doing. A personal statement would not sound the same a research paper. This has to do with how you personally convey the message. A serious tone may be needed for a paper that relies on credibility, where you may want a lighthearted tone when talking about fond childhood memories.
It is very important (especially in college, during which you write a wide range of prose) to think about and look for voice in writing. To start building the confidence to write in your own voice, write what you know. Writing from your own thoughts and memories, things that you are most comfortable with, will make it much easier to focus on your own voice. After all, these are your thoughts. Because of that, it is easy to begin writing the way you would speak, thus invoking voice.
You must also read and write works to learn more about voice. All writing personifies the writer’s voice, whether it is a classic novel, a fictional short story, a poem, or an academic journal. Read genres that you do not typically pick up, and write things that are foreign to you- a haiku, a memoir, a short story- to become more comfortable with other styles of writing. This will build your skills in letting your voice shine through your work.
The most important thing to remember is that the voice must be your own. Modeling your writing after your favorite author or your professors’ example essays will only make you feel less comfortable with your own writing. You are most comfortable when you are being yourself. Practice showing your true self through writing, and you will find the results much more satisfying.