How to Write Nonfiction When You’re Not an “Expert”

How to Write Nonfiction When You’re Not an “Expert”

Image: two women in business-casual attire hold a conversation while enjoying wine and cheese in a room with elegant modern decor.
Photo by Darina Belonogova

Today’s visitor submit is by guide coach and editor Liz Green. Join us on May 31 for Memoir or Self-Help?

Worried you’re not sufficient of an knowledgeable to write your guide? That’s OK. You don’t want to be the annoying knowledgeable who is aware of all of it. There’s one other—far more practical—strategy you may take when speaking to readers.

Let’s begin right here: What do you assume I would like from you? What do any of us need from any interplay with one other human being?

Entertainment. Information. Compassion.

Right? Think about it.

What are you on the lookout for when you’ve gotten a chit-chat together with your accomplice within the kitchen, or get speaking to a brand new acquaintance at a kind of awkward networking classes, or sit down subsequent to Auntie Edna at your cousin’s daughter’s wedding ceremony?

I guess you do NOT need to hear Auntie Edna brag about how her children are sooooooo nice, so achieved, and so significantly better than your children.

Cut it out, Auntie Edna.

In your guide, nobody needs to hear the way you’re the be-all, bestest-ever, super-dooper, way-better-than-them savior of humankind. It’s as annoying as Auntie Edna after a glass-and-a-half of chardonnay.

Readers DO need assurance what you’re speaking about, they usually wanna sense they’ll belief you. But you don’t have to brag about being the perfect for that.

A way more efficient route is to entertain, inform, and present compassion.

Imagine Auntie Edna sprucing off her second glass of wine on the wedding ceremony reception, and leaning in to share some juicy tales about your cousin’s escapades at his new job, then quietly informing you of her daughter’s impending divorce (so that you don’t put your foot in it by asking how the hubby is). Picture her gently asking the way you’re feeling after these tough few months you’ve had, whereas she tops up your individual wine glass.

How do you’re feeling about Auntie Edna now? We like her higher, proper?

Bucketloads of humanity

Rather than being “expert enough,” you want to know sufficient about your topic to write about it truthfully and insightfully. And past that?

You want to be human.




I assume that even with out being “an expert,” you continue to have one thing to say—one thing you think others will profit from. So share that with bucketloads of humanity, and also you’ll be simply fantastic.

This strategy will shift your guide from:

“Do this! Then do that! Listen to the expert!”


“Let’s have a chat. I want to share something with you.”

It shifts it down the spectrum from strict self-help to being a little bit (or loads) extra memoir-y. Conversational. Story sharing.

The good factor is you get to select how far down the spectrum you go. You can select to place your self:

  • As the authority standing on stage, giving an epic, highly effective discuss.
  • As the admired trainer in a small classroom setting, guiding college students by the hand.
  • As the trusted buddy sitting on the eating desk, chatting over a cup of tea and whispering heartfelt recommendation.

Or wherever in between.

How to Write Nonfiction When You’re Not an “Expert” image

Note from Jane: If you need to be taught extra concerning the spectrum of self-help to memoir and the way to select the place your guide will sit on that sliding scale, be a part of us for on May 31 for Memoir or Self-Help? (Recorded when you can’t make it stay.)

Liz Green

Liz Green is the editor and guide coach behind Green Goose Writing. She helps individuals who really feel drawn to write a guide that evokes others, however are caught attempting to get the phrases on the web page. They’re used to getting issues performed and are annoyed that, for some cause, their memoir, self-help, or enterprise guide isn’t coming collectively. She helps them lastly end their guide and really feel pleased with sharing their phrases with the world.

Liz has written 16 books, taught school writing courses, and edited numerous manuscripts. She’s the founding father of Write Your Book, an on-line course educating first-time writers how to wrangle their concepts, write like a professional, and create a manuscript they’re insanely pleased with.

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