There is an old writing cliche you’ve probably heard before:
Write for your audience.
As a high school student in English class, I seemed to make the silly mistake of trying to follow that advice.
Sure… that’s great advice…
Assuming you know your audience well enough to write for them…
But being a high school student…
Believe it or not…
Doesn’t give most people a great understanding of their teachers.
I used to think: if I want to impress my teachers with my writing then the secret is writing super academic papers while using massive words to impress them!
Because they are teachers, right? So they must like boring papers with big words in them…
In hindsight, this is kind of one of those George Costanza lessons I mentioned last email. My gut told me write to make them happy…
And that got me some A’s and B’s BUT I HATED ABSOLUTELY EVERY PAPER I WROTE and it was always a bit of a hit or a miss with the grades anyway…
What I learned ended up producing consistent A papers while I enjoyed the process.
Once I learned this…
I literally LOVED 4 out of 5 of the papers I had to write for school because they were easy, fun, and virtually automatic.
What is this lesson I learned:
Write for me. And adjust it for my audience.
The thing is…
It’s hard to understand the depths of someone’s soul but it’s easy to get at basic human nature.
You have more in common with your teacher than you think. They probably like some of the same movies that you like. They probably like some of the same TV shows you like.
If you write to please what you imagine the teacher is like… and you’re wrong…
then you wrote something that makes nobody happy… Not you. Not the teacher.
If you write something that pleases you… then odds are… it’s not going to be too far from pleasing your teacher.
Sure… cut out some curse words. Put some extra clothes on the characters. Don’t include stuff that will get you in trouble.
But write stuff that appeals to basic human nature…
the easiest way to do that is to write for yourself.
Once I discovered this…
I don’t think I ever wrote a B paper again. Writing assignments became consistent A’s. It was literally that dramatic a change.
(I’ve had teachers forgive spelling and grammar problems repeatedly based on how much they enjoyed papers. That being said… eventually… you’ll enjoy writing so much… fixing these stupid mistakes gets easy.)
In college, I happened to use this strategy to get a side hustle writing papers for other students in school. It never failed to produce a killer paper. And I’d get people that HATE reading looking at my papers and telling me, “HOW THE **** DID YOU DO THIS!? THIS IS AMAZING.”
And the funny thing is…
Most of these papers were written in a single sitting. It was virtually a single train of thought. I’d start it. 10-20 minutes later it would be finished.
And I’d want to read through it because it was such a fun premise.
That’s a sign you’ve written something awesome.
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