It doesn’t matter what “kind” of writing you’re doing. You could be writing a novel or working on a news story, due in less than two hours (yes, this happens). Good writers are versatile. They don’t just stick to writing about one subject. They write about many different things, on purpose.
You don’t have to be an expert to write about something. Actually, most of the time, you probably won’t be. That doesn’t mean you have to keep yourself locked in a box. Do these three things, and you’ll be just fine.
Say, “Yes, I’ll be happy to write about that thing I’ve never heard of.”
As a young writer (and by “young,” we mean inexperienced, probably still writing for free, desperate for a byline already), you have two choices: (1) write about only one thing, ever, probably get really good at writing about that one thing, and find yourself with very limited career and partnership opportunities, or (2) get used to writing about things you know nothing about, because along the way, you will end up building a portfolio versatile enough that you’ll have to turn down writing opportunities instead of begging for them.
Never say, “I don’t know anything about that. I can’t write 600 words about it.” Actually, you can. And you should. You’re going to be asked, even expected, to write on topics you’re less familiar with. Honestly? Backing out because you don’t feel like doing the research is just lazy. Which brings us to our second point, which hopefully doesn’t surprise you too much.
Spend more time researching than you do writing
The quickest way to completely sabotage your own credibility as a writer is to say you will write about a topic you are not familiar with without the intention of putting in the time and effort it’s going to require to get it all right the first time.
Once you know the facts (and please … know the facts), the rest is simple. Putting facts into your own words and making solid, well-written arguments based on those facts won’t take you long at all. Always expect to spend more time on this initial step than you do on the rest of the process.
Remember: you are a writer … not an expert
You can literally write about anything you want, and stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone is a good thing. If you do, though, there is a right and wrong way to do it. And if you start calling yourself an expert on something just because you’ve written a few blog posts about it, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Don’t call yourself an expert when you’re not. There are too many of these people polluting the internet already. Don’t be one of them. Use your writing powers for good.
Anyone can write on any topic they want, but unless you have a legitimate degree, license, certification or some other reason to call yourself an expert, don’t. Please. I’ve written about fashion, dating, the Syrian refugee crisis … I am not an expert on any of these things just because I have written about them. That is why facts and research are as important as we say they are.
You can write about anything. Never hold yourself back. Being able to write about different subjects makes your stories and writing in general more interesting. Expand your horizons. Just be cautious when you do. Please and thank you.
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