A while ago, I came upon this online ad for a writer:
Writer Experienced with Forklifts Wanted
I am looking to hire the services of a freelance writer who has some form of experience with forklifts. The writer will showcase his or her knowledge of operating a forklift by providing unique and informative articles. Please reply with details about your experience.
At first, I let out a laugh because the ad was so limiting. Immediately a couple of funny scenarios came to mind, such as bakers needing nuclear engineering experience, or scuba divers needed with cosmetology experience. I surmised that it would be quite difficult to find someone with expertise in two unrelated fields.
But then I came back to the premise of the original ad: that writers with specific experience in a subject area are more qualified than those who don’t.
But, is this necessarily true?
Having experience in a given area could be a double-edged sword. Those with knowledge in a certain field may already have formed their own opinions about the subject matter and be less open to what the client actually wants to say.
And, the underlying assumption that writers who know their subject matter ignores one simple thing: That the act of writing is not actually the first thing that a writer does!
A writer listens before he or she begins writing to “get the story.”
Then, as the process continues, the writer begins to shape ideas into words as he or she confers with the client. It is an ongoing process where writers must constantly adapt as they sift through conversations and interviews and written documents and research to mine the most important facts and details. That’s when the client’s ideas begin to blend with the writer’s gift of verbiage, creating a truly collaborative work.
So rather than looking for a writer with forklift experience, or a horseback rider with tree cutting experience, or a sea cucumber gatherer with skiing experience, look for a writer who knows how to ask questions, a writer who knows how to connect the dots, a writer with discernment, and most of all, a writer who understands who you are and what your message is, and will not be afraid to write it!