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Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice — even if that makes you a little nervous.

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Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

The biggest thing that separates you from every other blogger in the world is your voice. Finding (and being confident in) our voices is one of the biggest challenges in writing, and it’s easy to lose our voices when we’re worried about being liked by everyone, or when we compare ourselves to others.

While it’s true that embracing your voice will mean that not everyone loves you, the people who do will love you a lot. Exhibit A: The Bloggess. Is she the only person who writes about parenting, mental health, and cats? Far from it. Is her style for everyone? Nope. Does she have a huge cadre of loyal readers who are drawn to her unique voice? Definitely.

Write today’s post as if you’re relaying the story to your best friend over a cup of coffee (or glass of wine — your call). Don’t worry if it feels like you ramble a bit, or a four-letter-word sneaks in, or it feels different from what you usually publish. Take a deep breath, tell the story in your own words, and send it out the virtual door.

Ready to share your post? Head to The Commons.

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  1. I like the idea of this assignment, but so far I celebrate the first days of proper summer in Ireland 🙂 because who knows how long will last, so my post will be probably later on… Have a great day everyone 🙂

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      1. Thank you guys 😉 Wasn’t much on the sun today but somehow I got burned… so instead of going out tonight has stayed in bed for the change…

        Do you have any magical recipes to get rid of that burning sensation and strange feeling in the head? so far I got reply from one of my friends with the solution which is not so easy to apply… she said, that the best way is to take bath filled with milk 🙂

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  2. I like the prompt but I also know that a lot of college writing courses have to define the concept of “voice” to students… and not necessarily in the introductory 101 class. I wonder if part of our community would benefit from having the term explained more explicitly.

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    1. I’m not sure if we have ‘one’ voice, very often it depends on what I’m writing, or my character’s personalitities. My novels have multiple narrators. I enjoy ‘switching’ the voice and the perspective. Could ‘voice’ refer to the way we organise our writing, as well as or instead of the actual words we use? Perhaps they just want us to think about our voice(s) rather than ‘tell us’ what a voice is?

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      1. Even if they didn’t go with a single definition, a few examples of what voice can entail might have proven beneficial to some. After all, the twist was intended to target a specific technical writing element and it makes little sense to leave that element without clarification.

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      2. ” Even if they didn’t go with a single definition, a few examples of what voice… ” would much appreciated, at least by me 🙂

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    2. Especially considering some of us are new bloggers. 🙂 I am sorry to admit it, but I don’t know what 101 refers to, while obviously it refers to something to do with US education. I did Google it, but that didn’t help either. What is 101… please?

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    3. Voice is difficult to explain – sort of you know it when you see it – each writer has one…eventually. Seems writers must write and write and write then suddenly, true voice is there. You may not even know until someone says “you found your voice”
      Good luck with definitions. (Read widely and recognize writers’ voices which are all distinct) “Voice” is like that elusive flavor – it’s just perfect, but who can tell exactly how it got there or how it snugged in – without being noticed to add that final touch that brings perfection.
      “Voice” seems to emerge after much practice and finally throwing it all out the window and writing fiercely with strong passion about something not caring what anyone or the world says.
      Write on. Just write. It’s the only way

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      1. That is so true the last few statements that @philosophermouseofthehedge stated. I am only a beginner blogger but I have been writing for a while in notebooks and on my computer for some time but I have no clue as to what my “true voice” is yet.

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      2. That is so true. And we so love the blogger whose honesty shines through and overrides any technical flaws. I’m sure we all are prone to mistakes, but thay matter not alt all if the voice is really coming from your soul.

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    4. “Voice” can be seen as both a positive and a negative component of writing. On the one hand, the “ideal” writing is that which is so compelling, readers forget they’re reading at all–they merely experience the story being shared. In that case, there would be no “voice” to the writing at all–because it lacks any identifiable characteristics to be remembered since only the experience remains with readers.

      Therefore, “voice” is a reflection of imperfect writing.

      But nothing is perfect, so this shouldn’t bother anyone–least of all writers. Instead, we can appreciate our voice as those idiosyncratic tendencies that distinguish our work from others’. I tend to wrap my words in metaphor relating every day life to science and my Jewish upbringing (I’m also deeply in love with puns and wit of all forms), so these “flaws” form a sort of style that comprise my voice.

      Writers need not only have one voice, either; for example, my voice while writing fiction varies between sci-fi and fantasy, which both differ from my approach to general blog posts. If I factor in academic writing and poetry, I have at least five distinct voices–simply because each depends upon the style of writing I’m aiming for, which each reflect different idiosyncrasies that I bring to the experience.

      One fun writing challenge is to read a few passages of authors you like and then try to emulate their voices (an especially good exercise for poets). Writing like Whitman or Doty will surely give you a novel experience–that’s a lot of fun too!

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      1. In regards to “developing” one’s voice, it’s a process that takes time and usually happens unconsciously. As we hone our writing skills, poor techniques fall away in favor of stronger writing overall. Once we reach that point where we’re about as polished technically as we can be, our voice tends to shine through the writing since–as I said before–voice is a measure of the personal idiosyncrasies we bring to our work.

        Newer writers may struggle to find their voice, to which I say, “Don’t worry about it.” Practice sharpening your writing skills in whatever ways they need to improve, always trying to sound like yourself, and your voice will develop on its own.

        This is very much how we develop our actual voices–we talk enough, and sometimes too much, until we can speak well and imbue all of words with the whole of our character, shaping intonation, word choice, and rhythm in our own unique style.

        On a similar note, emulating the voice of authors we admire is one way to hone our voices by helping us to realize those unique writing practices (grammatical preferences, word selection, etc.) that we like or don’t–in each case, we can selectively build upon and work to limit stylistic elements that will in time help shape our voices.

        Voice can also change as a writer gains more experience (both in writing and elsewhere); for example, as I learn more about different topics in college, I find my style expands with my growing knowledge. Sometimes voice evolves steadily, so slowly a change is never noticed from one day to the next; other times it happens rapidly, one voice becoming extinct while another dominant life form instantly takes its place.

        In the end, only two things really matters when it comes to developing your voice: First, you need to strengthen your technical writing skills; and second, you need to write for yourself–using your own words without trying to sound like anyone else.

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  3. Very thoughtful post. Something that I tried today.
    As you say “being confiden’t in our own voice” is to me the hardest part of writing a blog, (well that and not procrastinating!).

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  4. I definitely have a voice (though I’m still practicing expressing it in English), but I have no fond memories of a favourite meal or celebration in my childhood. So I’m not quite sure how to handle this assignment. Would be grateful for suggestions. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion! We’re actually working on incorporating the pingback grid into assignment posts as well. It might not be here in time for this challenge, but it’s definitely something we’d want to offer readers in the near future.

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    1. Yes, although you can then work to develop certain aspects of your voice. But that’s why we encouraged you to write as thought you’re talking to a friend here — so you can start to see what that natural sound is (and then decide what you love — or don’t love — about it).

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