I am sincere when I admit that I never thought of myself as being a good writer. For most general subjects that I had found myself good at, I felt a click within me, sudden small epiphanies that had helped me understand or connect point A to point B.
However, this was never the case when it had come to writing. Even as a prep student, I would always be the one who turned in the writing assignment last or spent the entire time interval allotted in order to finish writing an essay of some sort, because I never knew what to write.
It wasn’t until junior year when my AP English Language teacher helped me to realize what had been the problem this entire time. Initially, I had been overwhelmingly distraught by the assignments that I had received back from her–all bleeding with her signature blue ink and disappointingly laden with C- marks, and I knew that she had only spared me from getting D’s because she felt the least bit of sympathy for me.
One day after class, I couldn’t help but ask her why it was so difficult for me to write, or in my precise words, why I had “sucked” so much at writing. She couldn’t have answered me any more perfectly, because what she had said became the sole goal that I had wanted to achieve whilst being in her class. She said,
You have no voice. Where is your voice in your writing?
I was confused at her answer when she told me this, because I didn’t know what to make of it. What in the world is voice in writing and how can I get it?
The voice that I discovered was sneaky and elusive. It was latent but obvious. The more I wrote, the more it had dawned on me that this voice was my ability to concisely translate the randomness of my thoughts into simple meaning using only ink and paper. My voice knew what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it, and that was why I struggled so much in writing before. I had felt extremely naive, because I had my voice, but I hadn’t chosen to listen to it.
Having been so distracted by grammar rules, sentence structure, and the pursuit of the “perfect sentence” every single time, I had failed the basics of what writing is meant to achieve, that is, to express our thoughts. Instead, from then on, I decided to listen to my thoughts and simply write them succinctly down–no filter, no alteration, no branded embellishments–I just wrote what was in my mind in a manner that was clear. Given this, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was actually getting something done.
Today, I feel that writing is like second nature to me because I continue to listen to my voice. It guides and shows, and, rest-assured, I will no longer be spending hours in front of a blank computer screen or paper.
Perhaps the greatest lesson taught to me during that class was that writing is as simple as it feels complicated ||