Research & Writing 101!
So, you need to write about something you are not an expert on…. Where do you start?
Well, depending on what you remember from your high school research paper days, it might be time for a refresher on tackling a fresh topic you don’t know much about – by the time you’re done, you’ll be a pro!
Here are some tips to get you through that unfamiliar blog…
Figure Out Your Audience and Scope:
After you have your topic, the next step is to figure out your audience and your scope – how deep do you need to get into the topic?
Chances are, if you are not incredibly familiar with your topic, your audience likely is not incredibly familiar either. So, how far will you get into it? What aspects of your topic will you focus on?
A quick tip… If this topic is really something you aren’t familiar with, you shouldn’t feel that you need to become a master to write about it. An easy rule of thumb is to go for an introductory overview (hello, 101!) or choose a specific aspect of your topic that YOU find very interesting (since this will help inspire you to want to learn more).
Research Research Research!
Now the fun part… Crack open a book and get reading!
Once you have your topic and know what you’d like to focus on, you can get to the research. A quick Google search is a great place to start; find reputable sources from people who really know their stuff. From there, work towards gaining a general familiarity with the subject so that you can safely incorporate that knowledge into your writing eventually.
Now, we’re getting to the actual writing part!
While it may not be your preferred method of writing in general, an outline can be extremely useful when writing about something you've just learned. It can help you organize your thoughts, making it easier to write your content later.
Be Open To Amending Your Initial Draft As You Go:
When you’re learning about a new topic and writing while doing so, sometimes you can find that the original idea you wanted to explore needs to be shifted a bit. This could be because your original idea was not well-informed, or because you discovered a different aspect of your original topic to be more interesting during your research.
Don’t hold yourself to the idea you had before you started learning. As you research and learn more, your thoughts on this topic might evolve naturally. This is completely normal, and it's best to just go with the flow when it comes to writing and researching! You should go for it as long as there is still a market for the angle you want to take.
Offer A Unique Perspective:
One of the best things about writing on an unfamiliar topic is that, as an outsider, you can offer a unique perspective compared to the experts! Not only can you connect with your audience, who is also learning about a new topic, but you may also be able to teach the experts something new.
Keep A List and Share Your Sources:
Both for yourself and for your audience, it’s best to list your sources out. Not only do you want to give credit to those who helped inform you, it’s also useful for you to return to those sources in the future!
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And then you simply write! As you progress, you may need to conduct additional research to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. And by the end, you'll be a mini-expert in your new subject!
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Written by Jordan McAndrew