Don’t Just Write What You Know

How to get out of that writing rut.

Don’t Just Write What You Know

Whether or not you write at all, as a hobby or for a living, you’ve heard someone say, "Write what you know," at least once in your life. This is a great quip offering a great place to start for an inexperienced writer. However, if all you're ever doing is writing what you already know, how will you ever learn anything new?

Start With What You Know

There are times when it is smart to only write what you know, even if you’re an experienced writer. For example, bloggers should definitely write about what they know. You want your blog to be informative, but also somewhat personal, if it's a personal blog. Even a business blog is filled with things you "know," so to speak, since it will all be "posts" that relate to you business somehow. Like bloggers, someone writing their own memoir will be writing what they know and what they've experienced in their life.

There are times when you will want to expand what you already know, especially if you want to be a freelance writer. If I only ever wrote about things I already know, I wouldn't be a career freelance writer. Expanding on what you know will also help you grow as a writer and it will give you research experience that employers of freelance writers really like to see.

So, what do you know? Start with that, but start expanding on it as well. You could start by learning more about the topics you already like, or challenging yourself to write something on a subject you know nothing about. You may discover a new passion. I wrote 5th-grade textbooks for a teacher for a couple of years and found out that–as an adult–I actually enjoy learning about history, while when I was forced into history classes in high school, I hated it.

Think About What You Want To Know

You can dive into subjects you know nothing about or you can start researching some things you are interested in but may not have any knowledge on. Even novelists take the time to learn about subjects they don’t know when they are working on their latest book The key to successful writing in any genre, on any topic, is having a passion for what you do. I deal with writing about topics I am not interested in by putting my passion into the words I write, making it fun and creative, rather than just drowning in the subject matter.

If you want to get into freelance writing as a profession, there are a few industries that seem to be the best for writers. Find a niche within these topics, even if they aren't your favorites, and then just write. Real estate is one of the more popular topics, and within it you could write about everything from picking the right home, staging a home for sale, or even how to remodel your home to make it worth more money when you do try to sell. On a daily basis, I see at least one or two job ads looking for writers in this niche, as well as in finance.

You're not always going to have the option of writing what you know, especially if you start writing for a living as a freelancer. Even if you want to author books, you're still going to need and want to expand and learn about things you don't know. Have fun with it. How many options do you get to become a student without attending any classes? As a writer, I dubbed myself an 'eternal learner', since I am always learning something new on a daily basis through my writing assignments. It is a great way to build your intelligence, and you’ll never be lacking in conversational material. 

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