This guest post is by Stephen Guise of Deep Existence.
Over the course of human history, nearly everything has already been written about extensively. Despite this, more people are writing than ever before.
It’s because there will always be more to say.
It is very challenging to write completely original content. Quite often, the best we can do is present known content in a new way or combine it with another idea. There is no limit to the number of ways you can say something, and yet some approaches are vastly superior to others.
Consider the following sentences that carry the same basic message (hint: one of them isn’t any good).
- I want to have good sentences.
- I want to convey information in a manner that is enjoyable to read and accurate to my intent.
Teach an old idea new tricks
A recent 50-word article from the brilliant Seth Godin laid out a single concept: you can’t have success without being willing to fail. I can prove this isn’t new. My second post was titled, “Are You Willing To Fail? It Is The Key To Success,” and you’ll find about 100 more posts like these via a quick Google search.
What Seth did to make his article unique was tie in the concept of innovation. He replaced “success” with “innovation” in the formula, and people loved it. They hadn’t thought about how innovation and failure relate to each other, even though it’s a simple derivation from the failure/success concept.
As soon as you say, “failure is not an option,” you’ve just said, “innovation is not an option.”
Overwritten, tired topics can be re-energized with a fresh perspective and choice words. Seth’s post was 90% recycled information, but the 10% of new material changed it as a whole. A nasty analogy is that of adding a few drops of gasoline to a gallon of water—it has a dramatic effect!
One way to say something old in a new way is to leverage yourself. Great writers are cherished for their unique style. Every single person on this planet is unique (an amazing fact of reality). In an effort to write “correctly,” we may miss out on opportunities to be our more interesting selves.
Here’s an example. The personal development niche is one filled with serious writing. Changing lives is serious business! This observation and some incorrect assumptions about how a personal development blogger should write were stifling my creativity. Namely, I wasn’t injecting
steroids humor into my posts like I naturally would.
Imitation = Limitation?
How about imitating the greatest writers? Most articles and books I’ve read recommend this. There are some things that you absolutely should imitate, but be careful about taking it too far. If you’re unique in some way, it could be a mistake to disguise that with imitative writing (unless your unique writing attributes are poor). Blogging is a medium that allows for wild creativity and individuality.
I believe that Steve Pavlina is currently the best in personal development blogging. He “gets it.” However, I’m not going to try to be a clone of him. Steve Pavlina is the best Steve Pavlina out there. I may pick up some great ideas or techniques from him, but I’ll be incorporating them into Stephen Guise’s writing style and ideas.
I want to be the best and most innovative voice in personal development and believe I have that potential. What if I fall way short of that? No problem, I’m willing to fail in order to succeed and innovate! You can’t become the best or anywhere close to it believing that 45th best is your upper limit. Do not put a ceiling on your ambition. Imitate great writers on this point—they don’t believe in ceilings unless it is raining outside.
Your ceiling is too low
When you put a ceiling on your potential before you’re exhausted from trying to reach it, you artificially ruin your chances. Like a nervous fan walking up to Jay Z, you’ll be timid about what you’re saying, thinking that successful people have magical powers. In your posts, maybe you’ll throw in some power words to feign confidence. Unfortunately, when the problem is underlying, it will bleed through to the actual content of your writing. You can’t hide it. You’ll play it safe and lose to those who are going all out … like me!
The answer, as I mentioned before, is to leverage yourself and your voice. Nobody can be you better than you. Darren Rowse can’t. Seth Godin can’t. Steve Pavlina might be able to. Their voices are different (and awesome, to their credit). Bonus: If your unique voice is terrible, you’ll find out sooner by trying really hard.
This has been said before
Oops! I’ve just rehashed a couple of cliches in this post.
- “Believe in yourself.”
- “Reach for the moon, and if you fall short, you might land on a star.” Side note: How did this catch on? The moon is closer to us than any star is….
Those are very common sayings. A possible reason you’re still reading this post is that maybe I’ve found a better or more interesting way to say those things (in just a few more words). Do you think I am audacious to invite comparison of my writing to a couple of the most well-known phrases? Me too, but it’s because I refuse to have a ceiling. I will never rule myself out before the umpire makes the call—and neither should you.
Maybe this post did fall short of those popular sayings and it will be forgotten tomorrow. I accept that as a possibility.
But maybe my perspective of this topic connected with you. Maybe my unique construction of words and ideas had an impact on you. That’s what I hope for. That personal connection is what makes blogging beautiful. That’s why we do it.
Stephen Guise lives happily outside of the box and enjoys sharing his ideas for positive life change. At Deep Existence, you’ll find an irresistible combination of critical thinking, creativity, and humor. Say hello to Stephen on twitter!