I’m experimenting with creating a blog post plan with specific topics on specific days. In a mark of stunning innovation and originality, I’m going with ‘Writing’ for Wednesday. Sometimes it will be about what I’m writing, sometimes it will be about how I write, and sometimes it will be a little advice-y.
Have you ever given up on your writing because it didn’t feel very original? Or because it felt like you didn’t have anything *new* to say? I’ve done it and it sucks.
On the one hand, it makes sense because you don’t want to just repeat what other people are saying – that’s just boring plagiarism and you already know not to do that.
On the other hand there is a HUGE difference in being not particularly original and actually being derivative. AND I think that trying to be original for it’s own sake is far more annoying than saying something that has already been said but in a new way.*
That’s the thing, right there: Unless you are copying and pasting someone else’s work (DON’T DO THAT), or simply restating a precis of someone else’s stuff, you ARE being original.
Giving your own take on the situation, telling people what you think of it – that’s your originality right there. No one else has your exact combination of experience and talent and thoughts, so by default, no one else is saying what you are saying. Perhaps it will be your phrasing that will reach someone in need when no one else’s would.
And, really, how original can anyone be?
It’s well known that there are only seven or so basic storylines in all human stories. The difference is only in how they are presented. Soooooo, why should you worry about being the person to come up with an eighth?
You don’t need that pressure! Why not accept that you are probably going to hit the same marks as someone else and just concentrate on how well you hit them? Why focus on how accurately you say what you mean to say?** Or, even, on what insight you can bring to the topic.
I’m not saying to jump on the bandwagon to comment on the same things that everyone else is commenting on. You don’t need to just add fluff – the only time you need to do that is when you are shipping breakables. But if you feel pulled to discuss or write about something, don’t let the fact that other people have already discussed it hold you back.
You have just as much of a right to comment as anyone else does and, I think that you should carry on. I’m not promising you fame and fortune. I’m not saying that no one will be irritated with you about it. What I am saying is that your writing is about you expressing your ideas so you should just keep on doing that***
It is far more important to do the writing than it is to worry in advance about how original it is. You need to get on with getting the words out. You can re-craft them later. When you’re editing, you can add some in, take some out, do what you need to do make them better, but if you do not start by writing, then you will have nothing to work with.
You cannot edit a blank page and you cannot post a blank page and you cannot publish a blank page. A blank page serves no one, especially not you.
So, go forth and write, my friends! Mess up some paper with your words!
*You know, kind of like those insufferable people who work SO hard to be different and they just end up making you want to punch them?
**And don’t get started on worrying about hitting them on the first try either. Get close to the mark on your first pass, move closer on the second and third and just hope for the best.
***One important caveat: While it is okay to have opinions on world events, do NOT speak FOR a marginalized group, step out of the way or sit the hell down and do not prevent them from having room to speak on issues that concern them. Don’t mansplain, whitesplain or richsplain: LISTEN.