It took me a long time to become fully comfortable with this blog.
Sure, I knew how to write and I knew what I wanted to say. I knew my audience and how to create content my readers could easily relate to. But I often found myself worrying about all the other “writing blogs” out there. All the other writers who were in this space also writing about writing.
What made my blog different than all the rest? What made mine special?
Even though it’s not uncommon for writers — especially beginning writers — to wonder and worry about these things, it’s questions like these that stop many people before they even start creating. Some writers spend so much time trying to stand out that they never put anything they write out there because it’s not “unique enough.”
Here’s the thing: In writing, there is only one true way to stand out from everyone else pursuing the same goals and dreams you are. And it’s not necessarily by having the most “unheard of” ideas or beliefs.
In reality, there are technically no truly “original” ideas. Every idea you’ve had, someone else has already had in one form or another.
This does NOT mean all your work has to or will be unoriginal or uninteresting, however.
Because here’s the thing: two writers may very well have almost an identical idea. A point they both want to get across. A message they want to send through their work. But each writer will take a very different approach to executing their idea or getting their message across.
Every writer tells a story from their own perspectve. That perspective is shaped by factors completely unique to each individual: Personal experiences. Particular realms of knowledge. Books they’ve read, movies they’ve watched, memories they have. Things they believe in. Things they don’t.
Each of us has something different to bring into everything we compose. I may have a blog about writing very similar in concept to others’ blogs about writing. But my thoughts and opinions are not presented in the exact same way as theirs. With every post, I bring in my own past experiences. My own current struggles and teachable moments and triumphs. I may aim to say the same thing, but I will never say it in the exact same way as someone else.
THAT is what makes a writer unique. Not that they have the most “out there” ideas or beliefs or opinions, but that they make each piece of writing their own. That they allow themselves to shine through every single word. That with everything they write, they add in very small pieces of themselves. Like a trademark. Something that is only theirs that can’t be replicated.
I’ve stopped worrying about whether or not what I put out there has the “wow factor” so many people crave. The point of online publishing isn’t to go viral as many times as you can or try to say something “no one” has ever heard of before. The point is to say what’s on your mind to say and present it as clearly and skillfully as possible.
Never try so hard it’s obvious you’re trying hard. Never write something for the sake of the attention you hope it attracts. That’s not what writing is about. And if that’s what you’re after in your writing life, you might want to take a step back and rethink your ambitions.
Say what you feel inspired to say. Take the time to craft your words into something memorable. Don’t rush it — write it well. Those who follow you and/or know you will appreciate it. Because it’s coming from you personally — and THAT is what makes it worth reading.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.