The Importance of You 知道自己的重要
Academia celebrates the great body of knowledge that has been accumulated through the centuries. A scholar’s twin mission is to recognize and access all of that knowledge—and to add to it. This is a grand work that can overwhelm a new scholar, who quite naturally is awed by the work of the many great academicians who preceded him. Consequently, some academic writers try to imitate the best of the writing styles they discover in their research. While emulating greatness is good, subverting one’s own identity in the process is not. You should write as you.
Why is this desirable? For one thing, you may be the next great academic writer, but the world will never know it if you don’t write as yourself! Recognizing greatness that emerged in the past does not preclude introducing greatness in the present. Nothing in the academic tradition requires today’s thinkers and writers to be obeisant to yesterday’s. Quite the opposite. Today’s scholars are expected to be stimulated by scholars of the past. As one of today’s scholars, you should use all of your faculties—including your writing intelligence—and become a bridge to the future.
The fact is, if you imitate a favorite scholar-writer of yesteryear, you cannot do your best work. It is impossible to maximize your talent if a portion of it is left undeveloped. After all, it is your interests that lead you to an academic topic. Research progresses according to the values you place on the key elements of a paper. If you subsequently write in the style or voice of another person, the result will be an academic mish-mash because the writing is not congruent with the thinking behind it. A muddle results. You cannot effectively divorce yourself from your writing.
In Search of the Genuine 找到自我
Scholars whose work generally is recognized as superior are confident people. They may be humble, but they are not awed by peers or predecessors. They have personal faith in the value of their own contributions to academic learning. In short, they believe in themselves. This self-esteem sustains them in their search for elusive truth or a critical source. It reassures them as they consider an approach to a subject or as they organize their material for coherent presentation. More to the point, it guides them as they express in their own words what they have discovered.
How do they peel away self-deception and self-doubt and come to value themselves as valuable academic writers? They test themselves and evaluate the tests. To wit, they introduce metaphors in papers and learn which ones work, and which ones detract. They try various word patterns and phrasing and study the results purely through a reader’s eyes. They use jargon in a fresh way to see if it invigorates a sentence or deadens it. In short, through trial and error, they develop a writing style that is individual and effective as an academic instrument. They develop a voice.
Some of this development of an authentic writing voice is accomplished privately. But the ultimate test comes when a paper is submitted to an assigning professor. Besides commenting on topic and treatment, a professor evaluates the writing, and a self-assured writer learns from each evaluation. He may adjust his writing to accommodate criticisms. He will come to see which criticisms are valid and which are subjective and, therefore, less valid. After a few submitted papers, a writer will hit his stride and find his voice, his writing style, and perhaps his vocation.
Putting it to Work 诀窍三：实践精进
Finding your voice is not just finding a writing identity. It is finding effective academic expression in terms that come naturally to you. This is important. Too often, writers who try to write outside themselves in the style of another academician encounter mental blocks. They get stuck and can’t proceed. Writers who have developed an individual voice navigate around these obstacles more easily because their thinking and writing are in harmony. While this advantage sometimes is underappreciated, writers who find their own voice know the difference.
Whatever voice you have discovered as your own, continue to refine it as your academic career advances. If your voice is didactic—that is, instructive in tone and delivery—help it grow to where you smoothly lead your readers to a conclusion rather than harangue them. If it is vigorous in tone, make sure you don’t wear out your readers with uncontrolled energy. If it is vibrant in its language, guard against overpowering readers with too much imagery and color. Above all, keep your voice active, direct and purposeful. A passive voice will put a reader to sleep every time.
A personal style of writing is the final piece in a well-organized, thoroughly researched and carefully cited paper. Academic writing is, of course, first “academic” and secondarily “writing.” In other words, a paper’s content, organization, citations , and originality constitute the critical mass in determining its success. Yet writing carries the biggest burden. It transcends all the rest. Writing that is effective and identifiably yours can partly mask a paper’s shortcomings in structure and sourcing, but only partly. Never rely on an authentic voice to sell a poor paper.