“Write what you know.” That directive has come at me from a number of different directions. My children will tell you that I know everything (and my husband will agree that I often live in that deluded state). I think that the experts teaching the point would say that I should write about family, rural life, home schooling . . . stick to the things where I have life experience or education.
Creating a freelance writing career required me to push past what I know and sometimes what I like. One of my greatest accomplishments came when I landed a regular column writing about Auburn Football. At the time I did not watch football – at all – and some regard that as a sin worthy of damnation here in the South. I spent hours researching articles about recruits, watching games on Saturday and crafting stories that were not something I knew, but something I learned.
I became a GREAT hit a parties around town. My husband beamed and other men awed at my knowledge of player names, experience, and potential.
The thing that column taught me is that if I sit around waiting for the things I specifically know then I may never build a full-time writing career. I have to be willing to learn if I am going to grow my opportunities (and my income).
Tips for Writing to Know More
- 1. Choose topics that you CAN learn. The internet allowed me to pull up articles about potential recruits all the way back to the birth of their football careers. I could look at stats and compare them to other players vying for the same spots. The information could be found with some digging.
2. Beware of topics that take special training. Automobile articles are another avenue that I wandered down a few times. I discovered that getting the in-depth information required for those pieces took more time (and had a steeper learning curve). They taught me that not all topics are created equal.
3. Stick to the facts. Opinions can get you into hot water, particularly if you are writing about something you have never experienced before. Writing about a hotel in the other corner of the country is possible, as long as you take the information available through that company and present it in article form. This is what I have started to understand as “write what you know” or think of it as writing what can be proved.
The possibilities for a freelance writing career can be as vast as the topics swirling around the internet OR you can choose to stay niche specific. Each direction will have its challenges, but the key is to write more to know what you want and what you can write.