Chapter 5: The Fundamentals of Writing
Originality in writing means integrating your own authentic voice into what you are trying to say. We all have authentic voices, and integrating that voice into your writing is important. An original voice does not mean you have to write about a new idea, although you might. Rather, it means making it your own.
And yet, writing with originality is difficult.
It takes practice to bring out your voice and use it well in your writing. It takes dedication to cultivating your voice. And it takes safe spaces and mentorship to feel empowered to share your voice.
There are many ways to cultivate originality in your writing.
- First, recognize that your own voice (and experiences and emotions) are important.
- Start by brainstorming about your own experiences and emotions related to the topic you are writing about. While reflecting, write openly and freely under the assumption that only you need to read these brainstorming notes – encourage yourself to be vulnerable and courageous. Then, you can decide later what parts you feel comfortable sharing in your paper.
- Use the literature to support your ideas. But also think critically about the literature and the ideas of others. Embrace your critical voice and consider: is there another way to think about it than what is presented in the literature? What element of analysis can you bring to your writing in terms of critiquing the literature?
- Also, don’t fully rely on the literature to the point that your voice is missing – remember, your voice is important and valued. The risk of using too many quotations is that your writing will lack originality. And as a result, it will appear that you are just reproducing what someone else has said. Most times, it is fine to write a paper with no quotations. Consider how you can reshape existing information from your own point of view and think about it in a unique way.
- Present the information in a unique way or from a unique perspective.
- If done correctly, creativity can be used to make your writing original and done so in a scholarly way. There are many ways to be creative in scholarly writing including the purposeful integration of a short reflection or story, a powerful quote that you personalize, a metaphor or symbolism, poetry and imagery. However, you must think carefully and critically about how to integrate a creative element into your writing as there is always the risk that writing may appear as non-scholarly.