how to outgrow write what you know

Every writer has heard it age and again, and it’s not without merit: “Inscription what you apperceive.”

When I began freelancing, I was aloof out of college, so what did I inscription about? College. I wrote profiles of collegiate entrepreneurs, I wrote editorials about college action… and after a while, I really wanted to act on and inscription about other things. But I didn’t air able.

Luckily, I didn’t let that authority me back for too continued.

“Inscription what you apperceive” is a actual acceptable starting point. But that’s all it is. It’s a abode for you to action to amuse your feet wet, and a abode to come back to when the tide gets too aerial. But it’s not a abode to stay for actual continued.

A bigger piece of advice, in my assessment, is “Inscription what you WANT to apperceive.” One of the abundant perks of being a freelance writer is that you amuse paid to apprentice about things. So… what accomplish you appetite to apprentice about?

If I had completely disregarded “Inscription what you apperceive” and simply opened a page of the Writers Marketplace at unintentional, figuring I’d send a affair to whichever marketplace my finger happened to touch, my job would be actual altered today. I might accept ended up writing about finances, miniature horses, and aerobics. And you apperceive what? I would accept hated it.

I accept no acquaintance with any of the above topics, and there’s a acceptable astuteness for that: I never really WANTED to accept acquaintance with them. Since I accept no absolute affection for any of the topics, if I had to inscription articles about them, it would air according to assignment.

But did you ever bar to anticipate about the things you always wanted to apperceive, but never activate out? Or all the absorbing bodies you wanted to accommodated? Or the problems you’ve encountered that you wanted solved? Any more those are article topics.

Ace shot this exercise. Fill in the blanks with your answers.

  1. If age and almighty dollar weren’t factors, I’d adulation to booty a course in ___________________.
  2. I’ve always wanted to buzz (person you apperceive)______________________ about _________________________.
  3. I’ve always wanted to apperceive how __________________________ works.
  4. My action would advance if I could alone ______________________________.
  5. When I accept a sleepless after aphotic, it’s usually as I’m worried about ____________________.
  6. The worst injustice I can anticipate of is ______________________________.
  7. When I was a baby, I was really passionate about _________________________.
  8. I accept always been embarrassed to admit that ________________________really interests me.
  9. In my action, I accept affected ___________________________________________.
  10. If I could volunteer for aloof one statement, it would be __________________________.
  11. I ambition I were bigger at ___________________________________.
  12. I accept always wondered why _________________________________________.

You may accept lots of answers for each statement. That’s abundant! Each answer is a possible article topic. Most of them won’t be specific enough (or maybe too specific) for an article, but they should accord you lots of advanced starting points from which to brainstorm angles.

Anticipate of freelance writing as your own befalling to apprentice about all the things you ever wanted to apperceive, and don’t anguish if you’re not yet an “expert” in any of these areas! Among my favorite writing assignments accept been topics in which I had no previous expertise:

-An article about a woman who started her own greeting card bag for Woman’s Own. Of course, I’ve never started my own greeting card bag—but the topic certainly absorbed me, and I wanted a acceptable excuse to apprentice added about it.

-An article about how “media overload” affects children’s adding to for I’m not even a root, let alone an expert in child psychology. But I’ve always wondered how increasing media immersion (TV, Internet, video games, radio, etc.) has affected bodies in MY begetting.

-An article about book packagers for Writer’s Digest. Okay, I had written for a book packager at that point– but aloof one, and I was eager to apprentice added about the industry and its players. It gave me the absolute excuse to contact book packagers and apprentice added about the marketplace. And If not for this article, I would never accept written Celine Dion’s book… I sent my resume and samples to one of the packagers I interviewed, and an editor there wound up calling me age subsequent with the assignment!

-Several articles about absorbing inventions for How much amusing did I accept learning about how Velcro, aspirin, and Post-It Notes were invented? This fabricated for abundant dinner table conversation for weeks. My father always fancied himself a bit of a aberrant inventor, and I guess the gene spilled over to me. I devour these quirky stories of how the human apperception approaches botheration-solving creatively.

-Every disabilities-related article I’ve ever written. Was I an expert in this area when I began? No. I accept a brother who has Down syndrome, so I had the statement of some extra compassionate, but I alone became an “expert” by writing about this topic over and over. Each age, I learned something advanced that I really wanted to apprentice– advanced legislation for bodies with disabilities, profiles of astonishing bodies with disabilities, issues of discrimination, etc.

When working to broaden your writing horizons, be sure to anticipate about two things: your passions, and your curiosities. You don’t charge to inscription alone about topics that beggarly “everything” to you

About The Author

Jenna Glatzer is the editor of (pick up a FREE list of agents looking for advanced writers!) and the author of 14 books, including MAKE A REAL LIVING AS A FREELANCE WRITER, which comes with a FREE Editors’ Cheat Sheet. She’s again Celine Dion’s authorized biographer. Appointment Jenna at

[email protected]

This article was posted on August 11, 2005

Originall posted March 18, 2012