What is your unique writing style?
This question is a tricky one for me. I’m a Senior, majoring in Psychology, tantalizingly close to graduation and (if I’m being totally honest here) ready to put the kind of writing I’ve been doing for the last 5 years up on the shelf to gather dust for a little while. Why is this? It’s because as I’ve written assignment after assignment for my Psych major and English Minor, it’s been hard not to fall into the tired mold of academic writing, churning out 5-paragraph-style essays with perfectly organized theses that are sure to charm my professors into handing me an A. So who am I as a writer? What’s my writing style? Honestly–and embarrassingly–it really depends on what I’m writing.
In the social sciences, writing is meant to be transparent. No fluffs, no frills–the point of writing is to explain the data. Your voice, your opinion–all of that is static when compared to your research findings. So! In line with this expectation, I have learned to write with a minimalist’s heart. I have cut qualifiers and slashed adverbs and soldered together roadmap theses that explain crisply to my readers each step I am going to take in my paper. I have mastered the art of paraphrasing and of the parenthetical citation, which keeps me from getting in trouble. I have restricted my rhetorical position to the synthesizer, organizer, and the presenter, but have lost the identity of commentator. My social science writing is strict and to the point: it gets a lot said, but doesn’t acquaint you with the sayer.
After writing one too many research papers, English assignments bewilder me. All of a sudden I’m expected to write with my own ideas as evidence, rather than organizing others’ ideas into my main points. As I write analyses for my English classes, I am unsure of how certain I should be. These are just my ideas and interpretations–how valuable can they really be?
That being said, I write to please and I know (believe) that my professors love bold claims, so I go into my English papers with keyboard blazing. Verbs like ‘intimates’, ‘illustrates’ and ‘exemplifies’ are reintroduced into my vocabulary. Adverbs and adjectives re-enter the scene, dramatizing my claims. Organization is still evident, but much less formulaic than in my research papers; more thematic and up to my discretion. I write large, yes, but is this who I am as a writer?
Who am I, really?
I would honestly say that I feel most comfortable in my writing shoes when writing in a forum kind of like this one: a blog post. I find that humanities writing makes me bigger than I want to be, and psych writing makes me smaller, and I don’t like being much more or less than I am. In a blog or journal, I can be me. I can use a dramatic verb here or there, I can organize, I can use imagery…but I don’t feel compelled to do any of those things more or less than I want to. I make the rules, and the rules are:
- Be Honest.
In my blog or journal writing, I am free to choose from a variety of forms and styles to do what I want to do: which, in this case, is to communicate with you. And when I do communicate honestly, it feels good. I’m going to try to do that (this) more often.