Writers have specialties, but nine times out of ten, we only become an expert on a subject by taking countless assignments covering it. For some content writers, the job is an alternative to college, a way to learn a little bit about nearly everything, and get paid for the privilege. So, to refuse an assignment because it’s not a subject that we’re familiar with, well, not only is that throwing good money away, it’s also neglecting an opportunity to learn about something to which we might take a liking.
If you’ve been writing for a little while, you’re pretty good at research. You can take almost
any subject and, in four minutes, write like you’ve studied it for four years. But… some subjects just aren’t for you, are they?
Maybe you can write volumes and volumes on how to learn programming, how to fix a car, how to troubleshoot a malfunctioning computer, but economics make your head spin, so you can’t even fake being a qualified financial writer. Maybe you can talk about the political history of any country in the world with no research but a couple Wikipedia pages, but when someone asks you to review a video game, you don’t even know how to install the review copy onto your computer.
A few things worth keeping in mind when dealing with a subject that just isn’t up your alley:
- There will be other assignments, you don’t need this one.
- If researching and writing on a given subject takes you three times as long as usual, then you’re working for a third of your usual rate.
- Someone else out there probably loves writing about this stuff. You’re not the client’s only hope.
It’s a good idea to step out of your comfort zone now and then. We’d all love to only write only on the subjects that really move us, but that’s not always economical when you have bills to pay. Be willing to take an assignment on a subject that seems daunting, that’s how you discover those subjects that you can really fall in love with. But, if you find yourself exhausted after completing a piece on a subject that just doesn’t hold your interest or that you just can’t wrap your head around, bear in mind that you don’t need to be an expert on everything.
4-Star writer Gilbert S is a writer and artist who lives in rural New Mexico with his dog, Sir Kay, and his wife.