One of the most difficult aspects of being a new student writer is learning to communicate to your readers in a genuine yet unique and interesting way. This is called developing your writer’s voice. While continual practice and self-assessment can help you create your own personal voice over time, a more efficient and straightforward exercise is to create your own voice mood board.
A voice mood board acts just like a visual mood board: a collection of quotes and clips of text that you would like to emulate in some way, gathered together to create a general theme for your project, paper or essay. For example, if you are interested in beginning an informative essay with a touch of humor, you may want to look up your favorite blog posts or pieces of writing in this genre and copy and paste the best lines into a new document. This document will become your personal voice mood board, so organize it in a way that makes sense visually to you and take your time to add notes and analysis for future reference. For additional usefulness, underline or highlight the most noteworthy sections of each piece.
Once you’ve completed the first draft of your mood board, push yourself to add to it from a variety of sources. Having a diverse set of content will prevent you from copying a single author’s writing style too closely, as well as introduce you to nuances and stylings you may otherwise have missed.
When you are happy with your collection, you’re ready to begin your developmental exercise. Keep in mind the most important thing to remember here is that although you are studying other people’s writing techniques in private, you shouldn’t try to outright copy them in any work you publish your mood board is simply an exercise to develop and mold your voice towards certain styles of writing.
To begin your practice, create a short draft of your project and analyze how you could fit certain phrases or nuances from your voice mood board into your writing, identifying what works and what doesn’t as you go along. Be sure to add these notes onto your mood board to keep track of your findings.
Now try modifying a selection of quotes from your mood board to work with your own writing – for example, if you’re working on a humorous piece, try copying a punchline and editing it to fit with your text. Try to pick up how the original writer was able to smoothly introduce that particular line into their text, or why they chose a certain word over another. Take some time to analyze just why a certain phrase works so well, and what could betaken from it to remove its charm – or, indeed, to add to it.
Continue performing your exercises for a few minutes each time before you start to get into the flow of words and developing a particular style. With time and effort you will be writing to the quality of your heroes minus the parts you don’t like but with plenty of your own personal charm.