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Do a Dickens And Use Other Writers As Your Inspiration

February 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 123

All the best writers across the centuries have one thing in common: They have all used other writers as their inspiration.

Charles Dickens was inspired by Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving, his good friend Wilkie Collins, and surely a number of other writers of his day. And they, alongside the countless people he encountered in the murky streets of Victorian London, enriched his novels and enabled him to create so many unforgettable characters and stories.

Other writers have done the same. This article could easily have been called 'Do a Shakespeare', 'Do a Melville', or 'Do a Fitzgerald' (I just thought Dickens had a better ring to it).

Let's now make a quick jump from 19th century literature to 21st century content writing (a big jump, I know, but the landing isn't as hard as you might think).

You may be asking what on earth Dickens can tell us about content writing, but it turns out that using writers as a source of inspiration has a big role to play in modern day web content writing.

Too Much Imitation, Not Enough Inspiration

Here is the big problem with content writing: Too many writers are simply using other people's written content and rewriting it, using exactly the same ideas, the same arguments, the same everything, and just making sure that it ends up in a 'Copyscape proof' format.

It may not be verbatim, but it sure ain't inspiration.

It's regurgitation. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth and turns readers away in disgust. It's one comma or full stop away from full-on plagiarism.

I know, because I've been there myself.

The Content Imitation Trap

It's hard to write articles on topics which have never been written on before. And by hard, I mean nearly impossible.

Especially when you are a content writer and you're not charging hundreds of dollars an article.

The instant response is to simply regurgitate what you find and put it in your own words.


There are a few reasons I've come up with that lead to such a course of action:

- Pressure to write: Some writers just have too much pressure to hit their deadlines, having taken on too many articles to do in too little time.

- Underpaid: By charging rates which are too low, it just is not worth being original with your writing.

- Ease of doing so: The content is all there, already written by someone else, so why bother doing anything other than rewriting it?

The first thing to do is to charge more and write less (whilst still earning a good income at the same time). This means finding clients who are willing to pay for quality content, or educating your existing clients on what they could get from paying more for their content.

But I've got another idea.

Rather than taking these already-written articles and simply rewriting them, try to make use of them in a different way.

Let them inspire you to come up with your own ideas.

Using Articles as Inspiration

There are officially three zillion internet users worldwide (give or take a few) and, as we are constantly reminded, the number is only going to go up. I don't know how many of them are content creators of some description, but I imagine it's a fair number.

Now just think of all the magazines, websites, books, and journals in the world. It would be naive to think that you could come up with anything that hasn't been written on before to some extent.

So what's a writer to do?

Pick a Fight

Everyone likes a good old scrap. Just as the kids in the playground flock to a fist fight, so too do internet users find entertainment in disagreements.

Using this as your foundation, find an article on the topic that you are set to write on. Read it through, understand the arguments and the points it is making, and then get ready for battle.

Disagree with the main points, lay into it, and make it very clear why it is, in your humble opinion, completely wrong.

This works especially well if it is a commonly-held idea or concept, and ruffling a few feathers--always respectfully--allows you to come up with a completely new article inspired by an existing one.

Take a Different Slant

You don't have to go for the full-on confrontation, although it does tend to make good reading.

I always like to write articles on well-worn topics by finding something slightly out of the ordinary. This is not as hard to do as it seems. If there are a hundred articles all focusing on the same topic, all saying the same old thing, then try to find something which all of them seem to miss out on.

Finding a slightly different angle on a well-worn theme is one of the best ways to come up with something original without relying on imitation.

Style is Everything

Go for the humor approach. Take what's already been said and then add your own unique voice to the debate, making readers laugh even though you are not saying anything that is particularly new.

That's still valuable, after all, and value is what you are seeking. Value for your clients, and value for the reader.

Someone may have written a perfectly good argument and taken a perfectly good angle, but it was boring as hell.

If you can present your own take on a common topic and make it funnier, longer, more interesting, or more controversial, you've got an article.

You're being inspired by what is already there, and you're just putting your own icing on top.

Get Inspired

Ideas are the hardest things of all to come up with. They can be elusive, hard to catch, ephemeral.

Using other writers as our inspiration is not a crime, and should be encouraged--as long as it does not fall into the realm of imitation.

Remember that every writer that there ever was has found inspiration in other writers. You too can find it everywhere you look, even amongst your fellow content writers.

Just don't imitate: There's no satisfaction in that. And Dickens would not be impressed.

And for more information on how to make the most out of your freelance writing career, from getting started to getting more work, check out where you'll also find a free report on ways to earn money on the side of client projects written by Greg Walker.

Source: EzineArticles
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