Know More, Write.

An alternative to a common piece of advice.

It takes a certain self-importance to publish content online. My opinions are valid and beneficial to the public. I have the requisite knowledge to speak with authority on this matter. My words are worth readers’ time and attention.

Writers are a gutsy bunch.

If only guts equaled glory. The internet is filled with promising headlines—or, headlines that make big promises—while, too often, the articles themselves let readers down. The promises are not kept. Anecdotes are presented as evidence, opinion as knowledge. And, lists. Oh God, lists.

“Write what you know.”

You’ve heard the old trope. Writers are advised to mine their personal autobiographies for the stories they tell. Stick to the parameters of your own experience. That way, the logic claims, you’ll never venture too far into ignorance.

You can see why that gutsy self-importance is so necessary.

Yet, this approach often serves only to reveal inherent biases or blind-spots. Even deep-seated ignorance hidden to the writer but obvious to the reader. Every perspective has its limitations. Confine yourself to a single one—especially your own—and you can’t escape them.

If reading is about coloring outside the lines of our own experiences and exploring the perspectives of others, can’t writing do the same?

Know what you write.

Don’t write what you know—know more, then write. Take the time to crawl inside a subject and understand its inner-workings. Even a subject you’ve experienced first-hand. Explore new perspectives and their implications on a person, or groups of people. Research. Empathize. Contribute. Expand.

Make the effort and put in the time. You’ll have a much better chance of delivering on the promises you make as a writer. You will have already taken the journey you’re inviting your readers on—beyond your own footsteps and into the footsteps of those who’ve gone further than you. That’s the kind of perspective worth sharing.

There is so much written content online. It’s endless. So, before you ask readers to give you their attention, earn it. Create stories that aren’t about clicks, but something more. Take your writing seriously, and deliver on the promises you make.