The Three Dangers of Making Assumptions

Newspaper, News, Read, Moon Landing, Child
At 3, I was not reading the paper. I was monitoring the dessert table. (Stock photo/not me)

The other night I was listening to the Fiber Nation podcast.  As they discussed textile history (yes, that’s a thing), they got around to the manufacture of the first US space suits which were assembled by the seamstresses at Playtex.  What?!  I paused the recording and found my husband…

“Yeah, I knew that.  We saw it in a documentary.”

“No.  I’d never heard this before.”

“I’m sure you knew this.”

Assumptions in writing are dangerous things and this leads us to dangerous assumption #1.

  1. Don’t Assume That Everyone Knows What You Know.  This is a big one when you write nonfiction.  My husband assumes I know every space fact he knows.  He has been a space and astronomy enthusiast since we were kids.  “Didn’t your parents have a party for the moon landing?”  Yes! And I can tell you exactly what we ate (french onion soup and cherries flambe).  No matter what my project is about, I have to lead into it in such a way that my readers can follow step by factual step.  But that’s not the only danger with assumptions.
  2. Don’t Assume Everyone Is Clueless Because You Were Clueless.  When I come up with a book idea, I have to be sure that it will be new to my readers so I look for books already in print on the same topic. This is especially important when you are brainstorming about popular topics like space exploration. If there are no books on your topic, there is one more assumption you need to avoid.
  3. Don’t Assume There Is a Market.  Just because a topic interests me, I can’t assume it will interest everyone. I have to make sure it isn’t a regional topic unless I am willing to go with a regional publisher.  There is nothing wrong with that but it will determine where I should submit the manuscript.

Assumption can really trip you up when you are writing and submitting your work.  Try to avoid them.