By in Writing

Write What You Know -- And What You Don't

There's nothing more intimidating to a writer than a blank sheet of paper or screen when an article or post is due and no ideas are forthcoming.

Each of us deals with the dreaded writer's block in different ways. I often go back to the basic, "Write what you know," but put my own little twist on it. Instead of writing about something I do know, I write about something I don't know much about, but have an interest in learning more about.

This approach requires a greater investment of time and energy than writing about something with which I am already familiar. That's fine by me, because I enjoy the research, discovery and learning that is the process needed to write quality content about something new.

Not only do I need to find the answer(s) to the questions I have, I also need to learn the material and assimilate it into my own thoughts and frames of reference. In this way, I'm not just regurgitating what I've read; I am able to add my own take and understanding of the material.

It's important to provide links to the research material I've used, too. In that way the reader, if interested enough to learn more, can access the same material and then branch out from there if desired. Giving credit where it's due to references is not only the correct thing to do, it lends more credibility to your own words.

How about you? Do you enjoy the process of research, or use your curiosity to help you find new topics?

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Image Credit » Werbestudio-Kombuechen Public Domain/CCO1.0 via Pixabay

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AngelSharum wrote on December 4, 2014, 12:18 PM

I don't mind research if it's a topic I am really interested in.

MegL wrote on December 4, 2014, 12:28 PM

I love research and finding out about new things

melody23 wrote on December 4, 2014, 1:01 PM

I struggle terribly with deciding on what to write about, once I have an idea I don't mind doing a bit of research but getting the idea is the hard part for me. I guess that's why I have always gravitated towards sites that give you a list of titles to pick from, and why my ramblings her are often just that!

nbaquero wrote on December 4, 2014, 1:41 PM

Feisty56 Doing the research is the fun part, even if writing about a familiar subject, I do check some facts and do some research to make sure the information is accurate.

Kasman wrote on December 4, 2014, 3:03 PM

Most of my posts are personal ones so 'write what you know' is at the core of my writings but I like your idea of 'write what you don't know much about'. I can, and have, become lost and sidetracked by the research part of writing - it can lead to all sorts of strange and interesting places and subjects.

rahulgugu wrote on December 4, 2014, 3:08 PM

yes, i like it when i do researches on my favorite topics , helps me to learn more and more

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 5:04 PM

Research is more fun for some than others. In my case, I often find other topics or ideas while I'm doing research on one thing for other articles in the future.

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 5:06 PM

I do, too, MegL . Sometimes I get so lost in the research I nearly forget to write an article. : )

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 5:08 PM

I prefer the list of titles, too, from which to choose -- one of the features of Demand Studios that I enjoyed. Absent that, I have had to find a method that works for me to develop ideas.

bestwriter wrote on December 4, 2014, 6:40 PM

I do write after doing some research. I remember writing about the benefits of some foods specially the nutrients that they contain. But writing on something I know is my speciality (lol)

LoudMan wrote on December 4, 2014, 7:22 PM

I'm too lazy and this all sounds like a lot of work. Isn't there an easier way? Like, plagiarism? Can't we just copy and paste the work of others? It's on the Internet. So, it's like, public domain, right?


celticeagle wrote on December 4, 2014, 8:26 PM

I love research. I get in to it so deep at times I look up at the clock and have spent 6 hours on it and it's 4a.m.!

scheng1 wrote on December 4, 2014, 9:13 PM

When I learn something new, I will write about it to reinforce it. Sometimes the information come after checking out 10 to 30 sites, so it is not possible to attribute to a particular site.

Glenn wrote on December 4, 2014, 9:29 PM

I think that's a great idea providing your own interpretation of the research that you have done. People look for that when they need information.and like you said, the fact that you provide the links to the resources is a great benefit to the reader as well. I do the same thing when I write articles that required my research. I place a resource listat the end of the article with links.

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:44 PM

I enjoy the research, too. Particularly when I am writing about a health/wellness/nutrition topic, I double check what I think to be factual as I don't want to misrepresent or mislead anyone.

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:47 PM

I'm likely to never write about how a computer works or try to explain the difference between a carburetor and an alternator because those are topics about which I have no frame of reference or experience. There are plenty of things I just don't know enough about to write intelligently within my realm of interests, so I find the research as much fun as the writing.

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:48 PM

Yes, no matter the topic, there is always more to know, more to understand.

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:49 PM

I am a bit envious of anyone who has a life and life experiences vast and interesting enough to fill pages. I don't seem to have that background, so I fill in with research. : )

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:50 PM

You are so funny!

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:51 PM

Yes, I can get lost reading just about anything -- unless it is very technical and about a topic in which I have very limited interest.

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:53 PM

I do the same thing, scheng1 . I find that writing out what I've assimilated helps my memory banks.

You don't have to site each reference, but I think giving a few helps the curious reader to find more information.

Feisty56 wrote on December 4, 2014, 10:55 PM

I think a resource list adds credibility and professionalism to a post/article. It helps the reader to see that the material is not merely the writer's opinion, but has a broader base.

bestwriter wrote on December 4, 2014, 11:33 PM

I have a few interests that makes it possible for me to think of ideas to post here.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on December 5, 2014, 12:28 AM

This is very timely. I've spent a lot of time this afternoon on my novel researching specific skills that my imaginary friends are quite proficient at--but I need to know enough about so that they don't sound like idiots when I put words into their mouths.

Madcanman wrote on December 5, 2014, 5:42 AM

I primarily write fiction, non of which has ever been "really" published, but the one time I actually did some research was when I had to interview several subjects for small town newspaper articles I'd written many years ago. The effort wasn't a whole lot of fun, but I did find I enjoyed it more and more with each article I wrote. It was fun to dig into the subject matter, most of which I had little or no experience with.

Feisty56 wrote on December 5, 2014, 10:02 AM

My mind boggles at writing a novel -- I'm wishing you the best of success and looking forward to the completed project.

Feisty56 wrote on December 5, 2014, 10:10 AM

I think one of the aspects I enjoy about research is learning that even seemingly diverse topics can be interconnected. I am constantly amazed by new information in topics in which I feel well-versed.

SandraLPetersen wrote on December 5, 2014, 11:11 AM

I love learning new things so I love research. The trouble with me is I get too bogged down with research and don't get to the writing process until I've internally processed all of the information. That's why you see only an occasional article from me. But I will try harder to go with smaller topics that interest me and post them on here.

nbaquero wrote on December 5, 2014, 11:54 AM

feisty56 Couln't agree more, especially on that aspect people tend to believe everything they read, so one has to be careful.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on December 5, 2014, 12:41 PM

Oh, WRITING a novel is easy. I've written tons of them. I've just never managed to finish any of them!

Kasman wrote on December 5, 2014, 2:07 PM

You speak in jest but sadly too many people see nothing wrong with doing this.

Feisty56 wrote on December 5, 2014, 3:11 PM

I hear you -- I I get bogged down in the process, too.

Ellis wrote on December 5, 2014, 6:24 PM

I like researching stuff but I have a tendency to click links within articles and end up in places far removed from the original thing I was

LoudMan wrote on December 5, 2014, 7:22 PM

Thank you. I was hoping it was coming across as a joke. Sometimes, I say something trying to be funny and then I run into myself.

LoudMan wrote on December 5, 2014, 7:24 PM

Well, let's hope they swing by here and catch the clue and hen write their own stuff.

AliCanary wrote on December 5, 2014, 11:25 PM

I agree wholeheartedly--learning is fun! One of my tricks is to go to Wikimedia Commons and look at their Picture of the Day and then find out more about what it is, so I can learn something and also have something to write about.

celticeagle wrote on December 6, 2014, 12:49 AM

I'm usually the same way. So much out there to learn about.

carolscash wrote on December 9, 2014, 9:18 PM

That is a very interesting way to find something to write about. I have been known to type random words into a search and write about what I see or read.

HappyLady wrote on December 12, 2014, 1:01 AM

I used to enjoy writing essays and somehow usually end up writing what I know. Even then you do still need to do some research and reference to bolster what you write. So far though, I have never been able to write to order. I get immediate writer's block!

VinceSummers wrote on December 16, 2014, 7:59 AM

I like writing what I know, but with additional tidbits I've dug up that fit into it and beef it up. This way I know I have a good grasp -- knowledge -- of what I'm talking about, while at the same time I'm feeding my own mind.

Feisty56 wrote on December 16, 2014, 12:05 PM

Oh, you mean you go off on too! Then, very often I am too tired from all that reading and researching to actually write a post/article.

Feisty56 wrote on December 16, 2014, 12:06 PM

That's a pretty cool prompt -- for both reading and learning. I am not one bit surprised to learn that you, the artist, go to a picture as inspiration. : )

Feisty56 wrote on December 16, 2014, 12:07 PM

I am with you on this -- and I am proud to be a Nerd. It's okay; it's good. It takes all kinds to make the world an interesting place.

AliCanary wrote on December 16, 2014, 10:02 PM

Oh, it's super handy when I'm stumped--you see how often I use my own photographs or artwork, as well--it really does spark the expositor in me!

Feisty56 wrote on December 16, 2014, 10:45 PM

I do, too, Theresa. I have a natural curiosity that research helps to satisfy.

Feisty56 wrote on December 16, 2014, 10:46 PM

That's an interesting way to deal with writer's block -- and to find new things about which to learn.

Feisty56 wrote on December 16, 2014, 10:50 PM

I used to enjoy writing to a suggested title or topic, but haven't done that in quite some time. It does take away problems with writer's block -- at least for me.

Feisty56 wrote on December 16, 2014, 10:51 PM

I would agree -- I begin research on a topic I know a bit about or is related to something else I know.

LilyDay wrote on December 31, 2014, 9:48 AM

I enjoy doing research. I often need to do a bit for my writing. Of course, I also tend to do a bit of research even when not (or, at least, not immediately) using it in my writing.

Feisty56 wrote on December 31, 2014, 11:09 AM

I find the probing and getting into the details in research a bit like what I imagine detective work to be. I guess that's the child in me still imagining things. : )

Colibry21 wrote on January 1, 2015, 11:42 AM

I don't mind doing research either. I do enjoy learning something new.

arthurchappell wrote on January 3, 2015, 6:43 PM

I never know my writings - I try to learn as I write so research is the best bit of it all for me

Feisty56 wrote on January 3, 2015, 6:52 PM

I think it's fun and a enjoy the challenge of finding the information and then confirming it.

Feisty56 wrote on January 3, 2015, 6:52 PM

We seem to be kindred spirits.

Colibry21 wrote on January 3, 2015, 7:23 PM

I do too. It's part of the fun.