I know what you’re thinking. Terri’s gone nuts, right?
There is never a time when we should get away with stealing. But let me explain.
Yes, Stealing is Wrong
We are taught from a young age that stealing is wrong. At the least, it’s cheating. At the worst, it’s extremely harmful, even illegal.
But there is one type of stealing that’s not only okay, it’s almost impossible to avoid.
And it’s not really stealing. It’s when we write.
Again, before you gasp in alarm, hang with me here a minute.
Lessons From Our English Teachers
We all remember school, and the lessons we learned from our English teachers. They taught about plagiarism, what it is and why it’s wrong. I have a vivid memory of being handed back a paper in a middle school class with a big fat F on it. Me? Who usually got high marks on written papers. I was aghast.
And on it, was written this word: Plagiarism. I was horrified. I had never seen that word before, much less learned what it was and why it was a no-no. I felt like a criminal.
Turned out that most of the class had a similar grade and that it was the beginning of our lesson on how not to do it. And it stuck with me, believe me.
But I’m not talking specifically about plagiarism in the truest sense of the word. I’m not talking about copying and pasting, word for word, something another person has written. Certainly, not unless you have their permission and you’re crediting that person in your copy. And even there, it’s probably better to quote your source and give them credit.
Nothing New Under The Sun
What I’m talking about is the topics and ideas we decide to write about.
And how do we most often do this?
We go out and scour our sources. We do Google searches. We read books. We read educational blog posts on our topic.
We learn new things. We discover what our audience most needs help with. And we don’t pluck that out of thin air. We find books, articles, blog posts and training already out there.
And then we go and write our own blog post or article. Or create our own training series.
And that’s not stealing. What we’re doing is repackaging similar content that we’ve found, often in multiple places, and putting it together in our own voice.
Our Voice is Unique
We add that one ingredient that no one else can add — ourselves.
There are very few topics under the sun that are brand new, never-seen-before concepts or ideas. It’s just that as we hone our skills and fine-tune our toolboxes, we are doing it based upon our research. That comes from others.
And we pass it along, in our own voice, with our own slant and unique style.
It may feel like a fine line, but here are some thoughts to help you see the difference:
1. You’re using your own unique voice to discuss the topic at hand.
You’re not copying and pasting what you’ve read and researched. You’re repackaging the material and infusing your content with your own style.
2. Life is all about learning.
We don’t fear walking as toddlers, just because someone else is already walking. We learn how to do it from those already doing it. And then we do it our way.
3. Your presentation will connect with a different audience segment.
Your content may even be more understandable to some because of your unique take on the subject. Those who connect and feel a bond with you will follow you not necessarily because you have something totally new and different to offer, but because it’s you who’s offering it. Never underestimate the power of individuality.
4. There are only so many good ways to do things.
When you write about how to compose compelling headlines, for example, you first learned yourself what worked and what didn’t. You were taught, by someone else. You’re not reinventing the wheel. You’re simply presenting it in your own way.
5. You’re not copying.
You’re learning and then taking what you’ve learned and passing it along.
What’s In A Word?
Stealing. Copying. Plagiarizing. In and of themselves, they are nefarious.
The trick is to stop thinking of it that way.
Maybe you do have something completely original to talk about. You may be the first one to touch upon an idea.
But if you feel you can’t write until that’s the case, then I’m here to tell you, you may as well put your laptop away. On a very high shelf. Hang out your “Gone Fishing” sign.
Because it’s virtually impossible to be original all the time. To always be the first one to think of something.
But you can be the first one to put it together the way you do it. Because it’s coming from you, it’s new. It’s unique. And someone will benefit. Hopefully a whole lot of someones.
In your writing, be inspired by others. Find those valuable sizzling nuggets already available.
Soak them up.
Learn from them.
And then write about them — in your voice.
That’s your original.
If you enjoyed this blog post and need help with your blog writing, why not hire me? Click here for more information. And don’t forget to post a comment below. Let me know if you agree with me on this. Yes? No? I’d love to hear from you.