My son Ethan brought home a booklet he made at the end of his year in the second grade. Each page showed a different response to the same question he answered each Monday of the school year: “What did you do this weekend?” It was an entire year of weekends depicted through the eyes of our eight year old.
For most of our early life, this is the kind of writing we do. The act of putting pen to paper gives us an opportunity to show what we know and explore how we feel. Through high school and even much of college, we work to make sense of how we fit into the world whether providing our literary critic of a captain’s unhealthy obsession with a whale or compiling a source-based response to the political event of the semester. These writing opportunities are important to our development of language skills and cognitive analysis, but they also do us a disservice. Writing in those formative years is inwardly focused with the lens towards why we think something is important.
Successful authors understand the focus must be put on the reader and satisfying their needs. Even the most personal writing of memoir or autography, the writer share their struggles and triumphs so the reader can make better sense of their own. And when an author concerns themselves with the need to answer questions for someone, they create a book that has a better chance of resonating in the marketplace.