Researcher and Decision Maker: The Writer’s Hidden Roles

The old saying is that, to be a really good writer, you write what you know. The idea is that you write based on your experience, because those experiences allow you to provide details and emotional nuances that establish a sense of realism.

This was how it worked “back in the day,” at least. Although some freelancers admittedly are in a position to sit back, leisurely sipping coffee as they let their fingers fly on their laptop, most aren’t. The majority work project to project, hoping they’ll find enough jobs to stay in line with their set budget. That means most wordsmiths take an entirely different approach to this colloquialism.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Today, I started my day out writing about the definition of discourse communities. (Yay! A language-related article!) After breakfast, I moved on to the benefits of chiropractic care. This was followed by articles on why cats spray, types of rice cookers, and lastly, the best exercise DVDs. Naturally, I am not an expert in all of these topics. But I know how to research. So for each article, I diligently used the Internet, scouring page after page for relevant information. After taking notes, I knew enough to be able to construct a decent, coherent piece for each topic.

The modern writer generally no longer can draw only from a specific or previous knowledge set to be successful. He has to be a continuous learner, or the number of projects he can complete will be ridiculously slim (slimmer still, when you consider writers don’t get all the projects on which they bid). What’s more, given the proliferation of information online and through other sources, he has to be highly analytical, having the ability to discern very quickly what data is most relevant or pertinent to a reader. In other words, writers are no longer just writers. They are also researchers and decision makers. This is important because research and decision making are not necessarily skills a person has in addition to command of linguistics. If you aren’t good at them, you might need to hone those skills before your writing process truly becomes efficient and your content is of exceptional quality.