My Boxed-in Voice

I have to make a confession: I’ve been lying to you.

It may be more accurate to say that I’ve been lying to myself.

I’ve been writing on this blog for months, trying to sound professional because I’m so nervous that if I write in my comfortable voice, I won’t be taken seriously. The consequence of this is I am not excited to write new posts. While I want to share ideas and build a community, I find that I am unwilling to participate in my end of that construction. It made me feel stuck in a box limiting what I could present to the world.

My writing class this summer has really changed that. I’m meeting new people, forming relationships, and having deep conversations. I’m not doing that through being closed off and “professional,” though. I’m doing that through expressing myself as I am, which is wholly NOT “professional.” This is not to say that I am UNprofessional, just that I take my work very seriously, but I do not take myself very seriously at all. In my interactions I’ve met other writers and bloggers, including Michelle (@BigTimeLiteracy; bigtimeliteracy.blogspot.com) who told me, “You should be you.”

Light bulb. Duh. She’s right!

Humor is the way I build bridges and get to know others. (It is also the way I sometimes burn bridges and shut people out if I’m not careful.) It feels like home to me to be irreverent and playful. When I write in my own voice I write what I’m really thinking, how I REALLY feel.

Colloquial language is the way I connect with others and teach difficult concepts. If I can draw someone in by making it sound simple or relating a new concept to something you already know, I feel good about that. I’m not going to do that by trying to sound like someone I’m not.

If I ask my kids to write what they know, I should also tell them to write HOW they know. I’m a better writer when I’m comfortable with the topic as well as when I’m infusing my writing with my personality. Building “voice” has never stuck out to me the way it has these past few days. I intend to make it important when I go back to my classroom.

If you’re interested in participating with me in this journey, follow along here or on Twitter (@erikajanereads) where my verbal diahrrea is attached to more than just teaching and education. Sometimes there I talk about cookies.

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