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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Write What You Know (And What You Want to Know!)
by Heidi Hoff

Thereís no doubt that being a writer has made me a better parent. No, I havenít trained my two daughters to quietly occupy themselves with coloring books and crayons the second I begin a phone interview, nor have I taught them to do laundry, vacuum the living room rug and wash dishes while I peck away at my keyboard, deadlines looming. I have learned to pitch articles on events that are happening within my family. Whether itís a clingy preschool phase or a premature crush on an older boy, I have contacted experts for information that could also help me in my personal life kind of like spending twenty minutes with a psychologist and not having to pay the bill.

Donít get me wrong; I didnít become a writer to get free advice. I want to provide a service to all those frustrated, fatigued and flabbergasted parents. If Iím experiencing dilemmas on a daily basis, others must be too, right? Who hasnít had a child with a high fever or hasnít reached a milestone around the same time as other kids his age? My aim is purely to help others in the parenting trenches and at the same time arm myself with enough advice to get me through my family crises. 

Have you ever had a cosmetician apply makeup and then go home and follow the same steps the next day? Watched a mechanic change the oil in your car and did it the next time yourself? Itís called learning, and thatís just what writers do. In fact, itís our job to sponge up information and divulge it to the thousands in a magazineís readership. 

One of my daughters suffers from a rare form of psoriasis. As a parent, I want to know everything I can about Erinís condition. What medicines are best? Am I feeding her certain foods that will cause her condition to flare up? What new treatments are on the horizon? My daughterís dermatologist is a busy woman and sees a lot of children with complex conditions every week. Does she really have time to focus on my daughterís case? She tries, but how can one human possibly keep up with every medical news release that comes across her desk? So I take it upon myself to ask detailed questions and become familiar with the types of medication the doctor may prescribe. I might be the most inquisitive mother but Iím also very informed, and while Iím learning about Erinís psoriasis, Iím also thinking about query topics and contacting experts for information to flesh out my queries. And of course while Iím interviewing those experts, I slip in a few questions about my daughterís condition. The end result is an article that I can quickly and easily write because I am so familiar with the topic. I throw in a few quotes from sources that Iíve interviewed and hopefully the published article will have helpful information for those who read it and at the same time Iíve learned some new facts that I can ask the dermatologist about at the next visit.

Members of my immediate family arenít the only ones who benefit from my access to professional sources. Once I exhaust our issues, I start paying closer attention to people in my neighborhood. Practically a third of my last yearís earnings came from ideas spurned by the little girl across the street. Topics like nail biting, talking to your children about sex and raising a spirited child all came from this spunky youngster whose personality is so unique, she canít help but be featured in many of my articles. Her mother is very cooperative when I ask questions about her daughter. I let her know that I am writing an article for XYZ magazine and ask if she can share some anecdotes. Next, I interview experts on the topic and after the piece is done, I pass on their advice to her: ďBy the way, I hear that the latest treatment for nail biting isÖĒ Not only have I sold articles inspired by my neighborís daughter, I have also helped to resolve many of her parenting dilemmas too.

When youíre looking for topics to write about, look to your own family and friends. The adage, ďWrite what you know," should be expanded to ďWrite what you know and want to know about.Ē  There are always parents who could use some of the same advice.

Heidi Hoff is a freelance writer residing in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. For more information about Heidi visit her site at www.heidihoff.com










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