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Many parents don’t particularly care about their kids’ opinions. Not ideas themselves, but rather the idea of ideas.
They entail different thought processes and often convey different ideas. While speaking may be nearly effortless, writing is often the opposite.
To advise, “Write like you speak” is like advising, “Dance like you run.” Sure, running may come naturally to many people, but the ease of running has no bearing on one’s ability to dance.
It entails stories that excite you, ideas that interest you, ideological positions that you believe in, recommendations you want to make, and emotions you want to express. Start with matters of taste and everyday choices: Adam Levine or Ozzy Osbourne; Lebron or Steph; Chick-Fil-A or Pizza Hut; Kant or Rawls; Woolf or Bronte (or Bronte); M&Ms or Skittles; Hillary Clinton or… Think about how it feels to behold those choices, celebrate them, and identify with them.
For instance, you might proclaim, “Black Sabbath rules! ” Both are reasonable affinities that carry vast implications.
That’s a shame, since we don’t really have anything else.
We feel our emotions and we live our personal stories.
But the moment we express anything to anyone else, we translate them into ideas.
In school, plenty of great students write intellectually reasonable but emotionally vacant essays about this or that.
Say you’re listening to Jay-Z on a nice day in 2004, minding your own business, and driving 55 MPH in the 54 zone. The concept of “voice,” however important it may be, can be vague, ironic, and woefully incomplete.“Voice” isn’t just lousy advice. Writing, by definition, is contemplative, deliberate, and silent.
Do you smack the aviator sunglasses and wide-brimmed hat off his head? Unless you are a far more forgiving person than most of us, you will probably be thinking one of the first things. Just as every human looks different from every other human, so is the sound of every human’s voice different from the sound of every other human’s voice. But, to an inexperienced or reluctant writer — which describes many college applicants — advice about “voice” is scarcely more useful than merely saying, “Write well.” Good writing is descriptive and precise. It’s accompanied by body language and modulated by emotion.