We are often told as writers to write what we know. If you are going to make a living as a writer, it sometimes requires writing what you don’t know, what you don’t like, or what you find difficult. I make money by rarely saying no to a writing assignment or request.
I flunked math from 4th grade on. When a tribal agency asked me to write a small curriculum on Native economics, I didn’t say no. When another non-profit asked me to write a brochure on fractionated land, I didn’t say no. Each of those jobs, which I initially knew nothing about, paid $3000+. I still can’t carry on an intelligent conversation about fractionated land but the brochure is still circulating for that agency.
Writers become freelancers by taking a big risk to set out on an uncomfortable, non-secure route. Rather than sticking with the security of writing only what you know sometimes there is more money, and emotional and intellectual rewards, to be made by venturing into the unknown.
I write plays that get produced with nary a playwright’s class on my resume. I write choral songs and never sing a note. I wrote a romance novel once on a dare, having never read a romance novel. (Harlequin sent that one back saying I needed to add more sexual tension. I am still working on that.) I work with my editors and not my ego. The public library and Google are my best friends.
When I hit a dead end on the fractionated land assignment I hired another writer who is much more versed in intellectual pursuits than I. Yes, that cut into my profit but finishing the article proved I was dependable and ready to do the hard work.
Never say never.
Write What You Know?! Ha!
10 Golden Rules and How I Broke Them (How to Break the Rules and Make It as a Magazine Writer).
A New Look at the Old Phrase: “Write What You Know.”
Success Can Come From Writing What You Don’t Know
Uncooked Books: Why It’s Okay to Write What You Think You Don’t Know
Marcie Rendon,is a playwright, poet, and freelance writer. She has two non-fiction children’s books. Pow Wow Summer, MN Historical Press, 2014 and The Farmer’s Market/Families Working Together, 2001. She is the creative mind behind Raving Native Theater, Mpls., MN. https://www.marcierendon.com; twitter.com/MarcieRendon