Is it just me, or does it seem like there is a lot of “noise” in the writing world? When I say “noise,” I am referring to the lack of originality in the content posted. There is an overload of articles, books, web pages, blog posts, and so on that, when being brutally honest, are clutter. The same things that have been said thousands of times before are said over and over again. For the reader, trying to find original content about any given subject is exhausting.
Writers are impacted by this overwhelming deluge of unoriginal content even more so than readers. It is incredibly discouraging to think of a topic to write about, only to find that the topic has been written about countless times. For example, searching for a “chocolate chip cookie recipe” yields 1,600,000 results. While not all of these results reflect actual recipes, an insane number of the pages are indeed chocolate chip cookie recipes. This is just one random example of a topic that has been covered one too many times. Multiply this by the millions of other subjects in existence, and you start to have an idea of how much clutter is out there. Ironically, this blog post is even unoriginal. I’m not the first to write about originality in writing. So then, how can writers hope to ever produce anything unique in our modern day, information overloaded world? More importantly, how can writers hope to have their work found in this giant sea of content?
Since both of those questions are too extensive to cover in one blog post, let’s focus on the first thought: making your writing original. Although almost no main idea is ever genuinely original anymore, don’t get discouraged (as I have many times about this very subject). There are still ways that you can make your writing as unique. Check out these three tips on making your content as original as possible:
Focus on adding value
Rather than placing such a heavy emphasis on crafting unique content, think of how you can write content that adds value to the lives of your readers in some way. With a rare few exceptions (especially for non-fiction), you have to accept that what you are writing has, in some way, already been written. You will rarely (if ever) be able to write about something that no one has ever written about. Instead, place your focus on making your content count. Before starting a project, ask yourself why readers should care about your blog post, book, etc. Are you writing just another chocolate chip cookie recipe that adds nothing to what is already available? If so, why would a reader be interested in another average recipe that uses the same ingredients that thousands of others use? Strive to make your words matter.
Always make an effort to contribute a new perspective
Unique topics are a challenge to find. However, a completely original perspective on the world and everything in it are already available to you. Because you are you, the world appears to you as it does to no one else. We all have a variable set of life experiences and abilities. Therefore, no one can ever have the same exact perspective that you do. Even if you share similar opinions with someone, those opinions truly aren’t identical. Leverage this knowledge in your writing to the fullest. Be as intentional about your word choices as possible to reflect how you individually experience a given topic. Tell stories from your viewpoint. Make sure that your writing voice is consistently reflecting who you are. Doing this alone will help set your work apart from the writing of others.
Research ideas/titles/plot lines for originality
When questioning the originality of your content, do a little research in advance. If you are doubting whether a subject has been written about too frequently, chances are that it has been. Don’t ever write content just to produce content, especially when you know it lacks any kind of originality. If your heart is set on writing about a particular subject, use the previous two tips. Try your best to make the content valuable and reflecting a unique perspective. If you’re unable to do this, it might be best to move on to your next idea.
Also, when contemplating a title for an article or a book, place the title in your favorite search engine and see what comes up. Do not skip this step! Because we are so impacted by the outside world, we can easily lack originality. Titles of movies, books, and articles we’ve experienced can effortlessly leak in to our own writing. For a title that comes up less-than-original, spend some time re-working it. A little effort on this will help it stand out from the rest.