Mini Richard Sherman and paper Russell Wilson keep up on current events, do you?

Mini Richard Sherman and paper Russell Wilson keep up on current events, do you? (Paper Russ is made possible by the Seattle Times, click this image to get your own)

It’s playoff time for the National Football League. Whether you like sports or not, this information is going to cross your path. It may be at work, on Twitter or on your local news (if you a local team has made it to the playoffs, like our Seattle Seahawks have).

As a writer, and even more specifically a freelance writer, staying up-to-date on this kind of information can be make or break for your next writing job. Especially if you’re just getting started and trying to network establish a reputation.

“But I Don’t Care About Football”

I’m sure a lot of fine folks at many news outlets or bloggers would agree with you. Personally, I don’t have a lot of interest in the best roofing methods for houses or how often you should change your air filters, but you can be sure I’ve written about it.

Plus, I’m just using this as an example. The same goes for midterm elections, music festivals and pretty much any other major event you can think of, there are a lot of people who care about a lot of different things.

But the fact of the matter is this: football is life for a lot of people. This rings true in Seattle, a city that just received our first Lombardi trophy last year. Even when I was working at Starbucks, knowing at least the score of the game and who they played generated genuine, interesting conversations with people as I served them a latte, which resulted in more tips (usually).

Apply these same principles to your writing. You’re not just writing for yourself, you’re writing to get noticed, and to get noticed you can either be an expert on a few things or have general knowledge of several things, people and places.

How Can I Keep Up with Everything?

Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. If you aren’t on Twitter, get on it. Right now.

A lot of people view Twitter as a place to broadcast your random thoughts into the Twitterverse. It’s been compared to standing in a crowded room and yelling out all your random thoughts, but there are numerous meaningful and informative tweets, Twitter chats and comprehensive Twitter lists.

Twitter lists you can make yourself or subscribe to, they are list of other users that you can organize into topic specialties. Make one for local sports, one for political issues or one for cute cats. Whatever you want. Just build them, follow people and start to aggregate information on all current events. It’s a powerful tool. And no, you don’t have to tweet all the time if you really don’t want to, just be a passive consumer of information.

The best thing? You can consume news on Twitter on a bus ride, while waiting for an appointment, or whenever you happen to have a free moment in your busy schedule.

Know When to Write—and When Not to

In light of recent tragic events such as the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, sometimes it is best not to comment on it. Keeping up with the news doesn’t mean always commenting on it. This is especially important if you don’t know all the facts, or if the facts are unclear.

Know when to step away from the keyboard and just allow yourself to process the information without broadcasting your take on the scenario all over the web. This goes for brands, blogs, individuals, social media, etc. You don’t have to look very far to find flops in attempt to connect a brand to a tragic event through a poorly thought out blog or social media post.