Writing When You Know Nothing About the Subject Part 1

Picture 2I hear a lot of writers talk about how they won’t apply for certain jobs or worry about accepting assignments because they know nothing about what they’d be required to write about and I hope to set you free today by letting you know you don’t have be an expert on a subject to write about it.

*Sigh* Felt good didn’t it? Letting out that breath of fear and hesitation is the first step to taking your writing career to the next level. Now, back to business. How do you write about something of which you have no knowledge? Research, research, research.

Do you need to become a leading expert in the subject before you can write your lede? No, but you need to become literate in the subject before you can begin searching for and interviewing subjects. Read up on the bones of the subject and then look at your audience. Are they other experts, hobbyists or the casual reader? Knowing your audience helps you determine how in-depth your knowledge of the subject needs to be.

Read up on the subject and then contact an expert. Ask the basic questions and also ask for research and source recommendations. Ask about angles on the subject that are not often covered. Remember, even for the casual reader you want to offer something more – something that will catch a reader’s eye and draw them into the article. Every parent has read an article on infants losing their belly buttons, but an article targeting less circulated newborn belly button issues like hernias is a great and different angle.

On Thursday: Part 2 – Research Sources.


  1. m says

    I used to be afraid of writing about a subject matter I know little about. In time, though, it started to excite me, especially when you realize that you get paid to learn. I have really come to adore this aspect of my job as a writer. Life would be too boring to only write about the same few topics, but my world opens up — along with the topics I specialize in covering as a writer — when I write about something new. It can be scary at first, but at least give it a try and see if you like it! If you’re open to exploring new topics, you increase your earning potential.

  2. says

    I used to worry about this, but now I have enough experience under my belt to know that I can write on pretty much any topic. Once, I was asked to write 10 articles for a company that had a very unique product (nothing like it on the market!) and there was no way to research it . . . they had only a few lines on their website. It was a very difficult assignment, but I wrote based on the small amount of info they gave me, plus the style of the website and they ended up loving the content. I figure if I can write ten articles without any information . . . I can handle a totally new topic that has plenty of info online!

  3. says

    As long as I have the time to do the research, I enjoy writing about unfamiliar topics. I now have at least a basic knowledge of several topics that I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to research otherwise. I’ve also came across information that was pertinent to me in the process of my research. If not for taking on an article about car insurance rates in my state, I might not have learned that I would be getting a rate increase and possibly a refund on my premiums due to a recent court ruling.

    • says

      Ray! I’m looking for it too! It was up & now it’s gone. Thanks for catching that let me see if I can bring it up. Unfortunately I didn’t save a word doc version of it, I write straight to the blog. Hmmm…Sounds like I need a new post “Backing Up Your Work!”

    • says

      Hey Jen, I wasn’t able to find it anywhere :0( So I will try to remember what I wrote and post it up soon. I write directly into the blog software so if something goes wonky I don’t have a backup, which is why I’m going to start backing up my blog articles :0)!

    • says

      It disappeared into nothingness. I have to rewrite it, unfortunately! So now that all hope is gone for its reappearance I’ll get on it as soon as I finish my regular posts for this week. Thanks for being patient, I love that you’re interested!! :0)


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